Venezuelan boatmen free to leave
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December 7, 2007
Venezuelan boatmen free to leave

After two months of trial, four Venezuelans had the cases against them dismissed, as the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to convict them of the charge.{{more}}

Andreas José Maraeo, Valantine Dominguez, Teddoro Dominguez and Merchor Sanchez were jointly charged with discharging a firearm at leading seaman Bramgurgon Glasgow in the territorial waters of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Union Island on September 23.

In handing down the verdict on Tuesday at the Kingstown Magistrates’ Court, Senior Magistrate Donald Browne said that none of the evidence that the prosecution put forward showed that any of the four defendants discharged any firearm, let alone the four of them discharging one gun.

“Four men cannot operate a M16 rifle. Four men cannot discharge a AK47. Four men cannot discharge a SMG (Submachine) gun. Four men cannot discharge a SLR. Four men cannot discharge our Old Bolt action Single Shot riffle,” Browne pointed out.

Referring to evidence that was put forward during the trial, Browne stated that the prosecution failed to show any of the above-mentioned firearms were seen. They did not see any firearms, empty cases or spent cartridges and no sub frame.

“The question to be asked is who was shooting at whom, bearing in mind the Coast Guard have a very serious job to do as far as our waters are concerned?” Browne asked.

He also highlighted that in the evidence, an expert diver was sent to make checks in the same location the following day and did not find anything, though he (the diver) said that he made 2-3 checks. The first area, according to him, was too deep, and he did not find anything, while the second area, which was shallow and where he made longer searches, turned up nothing.

“None of the officers gave evidence that they saw anyone throw anything overboard,” Browne stated.

Guns and ammunition, said Browne, are heavy items and would not have gone away like quick sand. He, however, stated that instead of finding any of these, a bag with clothing, food containers and other items was found. He also pointed out that two of the persons who gave evidence during the trial said that they heard two to three gunshots, and when cross examined, one of them said he heard gunshots about two miles away from where he was.

The Venezuelans were represented by lawyers Bayliss Frederick, Vynette Frederick and associate of Frederick’s Attorneys Shiraz Aziz.

“I am quite satisfied that the Magistrate has exercised his discretion, having regard for all the evidence and options of the evidence in the case,” Vynette Frederick told Searchlight.

The four Venezuelans are hoping to leave the state on Saturday, December 8, to return to Venezuela.

Searchlight also understands that the family of the two men who were killed during the altercation, as well as Andres Dominguez, are planning to take further legal action.

Today, Andres Dominguez, another Venezuelan who was also charged with discharging a firearm at leading seaman Bramgurgon Glasgow in Union Island, is scheduled to appear at the Kingstown Magistrates’ Court for his case to be heard.