“Reduce this heavy burden on society, on me and please make detentions less harmful and more humane.”
This plea is contained in a letter accused policeman Safraz Juman, 32, wrote to President Anthony Carmona, complaining about his lengthy pre-trial detention at the Golden Grove prison in Arouca.
Juman is one of six policemen who on July 15, 2013 were committed to stand trial for the killings of Abigail Johnson, Alana Duncan and Kerron “Fingers” Eccles who were shot dead during an encounter with police at the corner of Poui and Gunness Trace in Barrackpore on July 22, 2011. Juman was last assigned to the Southern Division CID’s Operations Unit.
In a letter sent to Carmona last month, Juman complained about his detention which he said has long term negative psychological impact. Despite being in prison, Juman fulfils his duties as a police officer. “Being a member of the TTPS, to date, I still attend court in police matters, as a police complainant or as a witness for other police complainants.
“Exposure to violence among detainees, threats of violence from other inmates, even guards and direct violence ranging from acts of humiliations have me traumatised,” he wrote.
Juman noted that the police arrested him on enquiries for the shooting on October 27, 2011. Police officially charged him days on November 1, for three killings. The Preliminary Inquiry began at the Princes Town Magistrates’ Court on November 5, 2012. “I have been waiting on indictment approximately four years and three months.
“I have been in custody for a total of six years awaiting trial. The right to a fair trial under the law is a corner stone of the justice system throughout TT, pre-trial detention and its use continue to grow unabated,” Juman stated. The accused policeman added that the impact of, “this unfair, harmful and inhumane practice”, spreads beyond him to families, communities and the government.
“Excessive and arbitrary use of pre-trial detention has trapped me an innocent person in a legal limbo and undermines respect for the criminal justice system,” Juman added. Not only has his pre-trial detention placed a financial burden on his family, but it also affects the larger community, Juman charged.
A relative told Newsday that the same letter was forwarded to the Prime Minister, Attorney General, Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecutions, President of the Law Association and to Juman’s attorney.
“So far, only his attorney Israel Khan has acknowledged the letter,” the relative said.
Jointly charged with Juman are Cpl Khemraj Sahadeo and PCs Antonio Ramadin, Renaldo Reviero, Glenn Singh and Roger Nicholas.