A VALENCIA man has filed a lawsuit against the State for breaching his right to have an attorney present when he was arrested for illegal mining in July.
David Junior Fernando Sanchez, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, was arrested on July 16 and denied the right to call an attorney.
He is seeking several declarations that his rights were infringed, as well as an order for damages.
In his lawsuit, filed by attorneys Matthew Gayle and Jason Jones, he claims he was not advised of his right to counsel.
Eventually, his family got him a lawyer, who went to the Arima police station, but was told he was not being held there. The police did not give the attorney information on which station Sanchez was being held at.
Two days later, the attorney went to the Cumuto police station but was refused permission to see Sanchez, who was not told his lawyer was there.
The lawsuit also says he was denied a phone call and was not able to communicate with his family, his lawyer or anyone else during his detention except for a “chance encounter” with his mother.
It also says he would not have had any contact with any family member between his arrest and his appearance in the Arima Magistrates’ Court, some 64 hours later.
Sanchez, in his lawsuit, said when he was arrested he became fearful for his life when police shot in the direction where he was detained along with a number of other people. He said when he was taken to the police station, he was put in a cell until two days later when the police asked him some questions.
Sanchez said he was visited by a lawyer whom he did not know, nor did his family hire him, and was asked about what happened and what he told the police.
He said he asked his wife, brother and mother if they knew the person and they said they did not.
The next day he was taken to court and three days later, on the Monday, he was able to access bail.
His mother also gave a statement in the lawsuit. saying she overheard a police officer say no one was allowed to see her son because of “technical issues of national security.”
Sanchez’ common-law wife, in her statement, said she tried to get information from the police, but was only told he was being held for “illegal quarrying.” She also said a policeman told her police could hold Sanchez for as long as they liked, and once they were investigating they could "hold him for a whole month” if they wished.