Free after seven years awaiting trial…Justin John to start new life in Boa Vista
Posted By Stabroek staff On June 18, 2010 @ 5:18 am In Local New
Sitting under the visitor’s benab at the Amerindian Hostel, former murder accused Justin John, using the modest English vocabulary he learned in prison, swore that he is never returning.
“I am never coming back here,” John said several times. “I am going to Brazil.”
On May 27, 2003 John was charged with murder. It had been alleged that he murdered his brother Richard on May 18 the same year. More than seven years after he first entered the justice system John was freed of the indictment by Justice William Ramlal on Wednesday. His case had been continuously delayed.
With no relatives or friends in the city, John made his way to the Amerindian Hostel. This is where he spent his first night as a free man and where he began dreaming again of the life he left behind in South Rupununi and Brazil.
“I am waiting on my flight,” John said. “It leave tomorrow [today].”
Before he was indicted for murder, John said, he worked on a ranch in South Rupununi and as a farmer in Brazil as well. Boa Vista, Brazil is the destination John has set for himself. He plans to go there and start his life anew. Though, he admitted that it will be difficult to do at 53.
The ranching life is something he had almost forgotten during the seven years he spent in prison and now it is how he will provide for himself. It is not a nice feeling, John said, to suddenly come out of a place you thought you would never leave and find that you’re alone with no money, clothes or food.
He believes that it was more difficult for him, than other inmates, to remain in prison for so many years. The first of John’s difficulties was the language barrier which prevented him from communicating with inmates and prison workers.
“They [the inmates] tell me I am Brazil and that this is Guyana,” John recalled, “and they tell me I must speak English because I was in Guyana. But I born in South Rupununi. I am Guyana.”
John has identification cards for both Guyana and Brazil. He spent his life (before prison) travelling back and forth between South Rupununi and Boa Vista. He had a family, many friends and was always with other ranch or farmhands when at work. But while in prison, John said, for the first time in his life he felt truly alone.
For the first year, he related, he was silent. All he did day after day was listen to the inmates around him speak. At the end of that year he was able to speak English. “I still have trouble with English.” John said. “You can’t talk fast. I learn for seven years but I not learn so much.”
Even after he overcame the language barrier, the man said, he never spoke unless he absolutely needed to do so. During his years in prison John was never involved in any fights and developed no friendships.
“I stay in corner to be safe and I watch them fight but me I wait to get out; to go home,” he said.
Since his indictment John has not seen or heard from his family. They would not have been able to travel to Georgetown to visit him, he said, because they would not have been able to afford it. He has two daughters. The older is now 21 and the younger 7. His reputed wife, John said, had been pregnant when he was indicted.
“I wait to see my daughters,” he said with a smile. “I wait to see my little one and hold her and ask if she know who I am. I start life in Boa Vista. They tell me I no Guyana. I am Brazil.”
John and his brother had been drinking on May 18, 2003 when a fight broke out resulting in his brother, Richard, being fatally wounded.
In court on Wednesday, State Prosecutor Judith Gildharie-Mursalin called a police witness to the stand then closed the state’s case saying no other witness could be located.
Defence counsel Vidyanand Persaud then submitted that the state had no evidence to support the indictment. The judge agreed and directed the jury to return a formal verdict of not guilty setting John free. Persaud, who appeared in association with attorney-at-law, Prabha Persaud-Kissoon also submitted that John’s constitutional right to a fair trial within a reasonable time as guaranteed under the constitution was violated, pointing to the years his client spent in prison waiting for a jury trial.
Persaud mentioned that throughout that time John’s case was called on March 8, 2005; March 7, 2006; March 9, 2008. He said evidence was gathered over that period from a few witnesses, but that John had been waiting for years for a trial. The lawyer also noted that John suffered due to the delays.
Nota del editor del blog: Al referenciarse a la República Cooperativa de Guyana se deben de tener en cuenta los 159.500Km2, de territorios ubicados al oeste del río Esequibo conocidos con el nombre de Guayana Esequiba o Zona en Reclamación sujetos al Acuerdo de Ginebra del 17 de febrero de 1966.
Territorios estos sobre los cuales el gobierno Venezolano en representación de la Nación venezolana se reservo sus derechos sobre los territorios de la Guayana Esequiba en su nota del 26 de mayo de 1966 al reconocerse al nuevo Estado de Guyana .
“...por lo tanto, Venezuela reconoce como territorio del nuevo Estado, el que se sitúa al este de la margen derecha del río Esequibo y reitera ante la comunidad internacional, que se reserva expresamente sus derechos de soberanía territorial sobre la zona que se encuentra en la margen izquierda del precitado río; en consecuencia, el territorio de la Guayana Esequiba sobre el cual Venezuela se reserva expresamente sus derechos soberanos, limita al Este con el nuevo Estado de Guyana, a través de la línea del río Esequibo, tomando éste desde su nacimiento hasta su desembocadura en el Océano Atlántico...”