Court clash

Raul Garcia’s attorneys Paula Jemmott, David Commissiong and Ajamu Boardi outside the Supreme Court.

The Barbados High Court has been forced to mediate in unresolved efforts by David Comissiong, attorney for Cuba- born drug convict Raul Garcia, to have his living conditions relaxed.

After Comissiong and Donna K. Brathwaite, counsel for the Chief Immigration Officer and the Minister of Immigration, could not agree on proposals by Garcia’s lawyer to have his “inhumane” conditions improved, presiding judge Justice Margaret Reifer adjourned the court and brought both parties together in her chambers to mediate.

The judge ruled that while the substantive case before the court would now be heard on November 21, she would give the state lawyers until next Wednesday to check with their clients regarding a resolution to Comissiong’s proposals that the ex-convict’s conditions of detention be enhanced in the meantime.

Justice Reifer said if there was no resolution, she would allow a formal application from Comissiong to be dealt with at that time. The state, represented by Brathwaite and Magreta Jordan-Watson, have also been given 21 days from today, within which to file an affidavit and Comissiong, seven days after to respond, if he so wishes.

After the in-chambers mediation talks, Comissiong told reporters that some concessions regarding improvements to Garcia’s conditions were agreed, but because the matter was still under discussion, he could provide no details.

He said he was hoping the state lawyers would get back to him long before next Wednesday with a full agreement on this issue. He said he was also looking forward to the substantive case being resolved by the end of next month. The substantive issue, as Comissiong described it, is for the immigration authorities to prove that the ex-prisoner’s continued detention was not unlawful, considering that he had served out his 20-year sentence more than two and a half years ago.

Comissiong is anxious that his client’s conditions be relaxed, taking into consideration that he was on the verge of a psychological collapse and was planning another hunger strike, if he continued to be deprived of simple things like a radio to listen to music or a television to watch programmes.

At court today were the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and Security, Edison Alleyne, more than half dozen immigration officers, including Chief Immigration Officer Erine Griffith, and three members of the Dodds Prison Ministry.

Garcia, who wore a maroon short sleeve shirt and khaki pants, was escorted by two immigration officers. (EJ)

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