Former President Bharrat Jagdeo this morning appeared in the Whim Magistrate’s Court on a charge of making racially divisive statements in contravention of section 139D of The Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:02 and was sent off on his own recognisance and instructed to return to court on June 23 for the beginning of the preliminary inquiry into the matter.
Magistrate Charlyn Artiga also ordered that he not leave the jurisdiction without permission.
This is Jagdeo’s first appearance in court in this matter even though on April 20 his lawyers had argued for the dismissal of the charge that was brought against him by chartered accountant Christopher Ram. Jagdeo was not in court when the matter was initially called this morning and the magistrate threatened to issue an arrest warrant for him. After some deliberation he was given time to make an appearance which he eventually did. He did not say anything in court, aside from giving his address as Sparendaam, as he was not required to plead to the charge.
Ram filed the private criminal charge over controversial statements Jagdeo had made at a remembrance ceremony for late president Cheddi Jagan at Babu John, Port Mourant on March 8.
Jagdeo was widely condemned for these statements in which he used a pejorative term to describe Indo-Guyanese and stated that this was how another section of the populace referred to them. He gained full support from the former ruling party for these statements. The statements were later described as racially divisive by the Media Monitoring Unit of the Guyana Elections Commission.
When the matter was called on April 20 there was even more drama on the outside as a confrontation between rights activist Sherlina Nageer and Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran gained wide publicity over abusive remarks made by Ramsaran. A separate rant against Nageer by Ramsaran eventually resulted in him being dismissed by then President Donald Ramotar. (Stabroek News)