Just under a month ago former calypso monarch Aziza Kebret Tsgaye Clarke exited the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court handcuffed, while family members broke down in tears, as she was escorted away by police officers to Dodds prison.
This afternoon though, only tears of joy flowed as Clarke stepped out of the District ‘A’ Magistrates Court a free woman after being granted $20,000 bail by Magistrate Graveney Bannister.
Upon exiting the courtroom she was immediatley hugged by her mother as the two engaged in a lengthy embrace, as her sister watched on.
The 23-year-old, of Unit 4 Bonnetts, Brittons Hill, St Michael, had been on remand at the penal institution since March 30, following her arrest in connection with a number of offences which occurred on March 21 in Graeme Hall, Christ Church, including an indictable charge of assisting murder accused Hakeem Roberto Stuart, who was charged for the brazen daylight shooting which occured at Sheraton Mall.
Clarke was also charged with assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty; resisting arrest and committing criminal damage. She pleaded not guilty to these three offences.
Additionally, she was charged with the following traffic offences to which she also pleaded not guilty: failing to stop at the sound of the police siren; failing to register motor vehicle MC92 and using a vehicle without having it insured.
During today’s sitting in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court prosecutor Constable Kevin Forde made further objections to bail for the calypsonian. Forde submitted that the charges were serious and could attract up to ten years in prison if convicted, adding that the accused could abscond based on the prison term attached.
The prosecutor also argued that there was information that threats were being made against the accused previously and there “was no information that those threats have subsided.”
“The prosecution believes the accused should remain in custody for her own protection as annunciated in the Bail Act,” Forde added.
In his application for his client to be released pending trial, Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley argued that the prosecutor could not raise the issue of threats as a ground for objecting to bail without submitting further proof before the court.
“He has a duty as a minister of justice not only to make a statement but to produce evidence . . . . He can’t make a naked statement when speaking about the liberty of an accused person before the court,” said Lashley who also submitted that his client was a fit and proper candidate for bail.
“She has no convictions, is the mother of a four-year-old and is not known. The
prosecutor has not advanced any strong evidence to advance his position on the denial of bail. If the court is minded to grant bail she is willing to surrender her passport and submit to any bail conditions,” Lashley further submitted.
The attorney raised the issue of delay within the judicial system saying that the file in the cases against his client would take up to ten months to be prepared.
“I am saying that even the preparation of statements and having pre trial served . . . we can’t avoid the issue of delay and getting this case ready for trial will take sometime,” Lashley said as he asked Magistrate Bannister to consider his client’s contribution to the community and national level.
“I am saying that this young lady has made contributions in a positive way. The young lady has strong ties to the community, community involvement, national involvement and if granted bail she . . . accepts any conditions put in place,” he said as Clarke quietly sat in the docks.
The defence attorney went on to dismiss the prosecutor’s submission on the sentence attached to the alleged crimes saying, “It is to be addressed in another forum. It is a non point at this time . . . and she is not a flight risk.”
After listening to the submissions Magistrate Bannister ruled in favour of bail but imposed some strict conditions on Clarke.
In accepting her two sureties, the accused must now report to the Hastings Police Station every Saturday before noon. She had to surrender her passport to the court and cannot travel or apply for another passport unless permitted by the court.
Clarke who makes her next appearance in the District ‘B’ Oistins Magistrates’ Court on May 3 must also adhere to a daily 11 p.m. to
6 a.m. curfew.