Raul Garcia’s freedom walk is again on pause and this time by at least another 10 days. When he finally takes it, however, Barbadian taxpayers will not have to pick up the tab, with a local bank account being funded by his relatives in the United States already established and receiving money to pay for the former drug convict’s living expenses.
And the current proposal, once approved by the court, will see him residing with a professionally trained counsellor.
News of these latest developments emerged after the Cuban’s legal team led by attorney-at-law David Comissiong, and Government’s legal advisers from the Solicitor General’s Chambers met with Madame Justice Margaret Reifer this morning at the Supreme Court.
With Garcia absent, the jurist invited the two sides to return to court on April 15 at 2 p.m. so she could examine the proposed living arrangements, and a “frustrated” Comissiong told the media afterwards that he presumed that once this was satisfactorily done his client would no longer be detained by the state.
“All of the persons who figure in the proposed living arrangements will be brought before the court on the 15th so they will be available for examination by the judge, by the attorneys from both sides, so our expectation is that that examination will be sufficient to allow the judge to make an order,” he said at the end of the meeting with Judge Reifer, which started about 9:30 and lasted less than an hour.
“From our side we are very confident that the arrangements that we have proposed are extremely practical, are extremely reasonable. We are proposing that he be in a sense placed in the hands of a very experienced professional person, whose profession has to do with counselling and that kind of thing.
“We have already made arrangements for his living expenses to be met by his family in the United States. We have established a bank account, installments have already been paid so we have already accumulated a fund of money to go towards his living arrangements so we really don’t anticipate that there should be any major problems. We have done our homework and we are confident that we will be able to satisfy the judge on the 15,” he added.
But while hopeful that Garcia would be allowed to walk free as approved by the judge in February, and after three years of detention following the completion of a 20 year jail sentence, the outspoken lawyer said the delay was frustrating to both him and Garcia, who had health challenges.
“It is frustrating because on the 20 of February the judge made determination that the power to detain Mr. Garcia under the detention order has expired and so what it means is that six, seven weeks after that determination was made, he is still being detained. I raised that with the judge this morning and her response was that it was made clear that suitable arrangements would have to be put in place before he is granted his freedom,” Comissiong noted.
“So our frustration really is that it is taking so long to put such arrangements in place. Granted we understand that the judge was ill and her illness would have accounted for some of the delay, but I am reflecting as well the sentiments of Mr. Garcia because after all this is a gentleman who…after serving a 20 year prison sentence has now been in detention for in excess of three years.
“And Mr. Garcia is a man pushing 60 so you could imagine his frustration and I fully understand his frustration, I empathise with it and so from our side we are very very eager, keen, to get this matter concluded.”
The attorney said when he spoke to Garcia via telephone yesterday he was “hopeful” after hearing of today’s court visit, but that he “is very disenchanted, he is very despondent that things are taking so long to conclude”.
“So that news that I was able to convey to him yesterday cheered him up, but we need to get him out, … I know the detention is very difficult on him, I know it has taken a toll on his health and he is very concerned about that as well and three years is a long time to be deprived of your freedom, to be constantly hoping that tomorrow someday soon you will be walking out of your detention and it not to happen, and it just to linger on and on,” Comissiong stated. (SC)