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Not justified

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

The fate of detained Cuba-born drug convict Raul Garcia will shortly be known.

His attorney-at-law, David Comissiong, who started his closing arguments this afternoon, will conclude them tomorrow morning before Supreme Court Justice, Margaret Reifer.

Donna Brathwaite, counsel for the minister of immigration and the chief immigration officer, will present her closing submission immediately afterward.

Justice Reifer will then adjourn and examine all the issues before announcing her final decision on whether Garcia’s continued detention is unlawful and should therefore be released.

During his closing submission, Comissiong asked the judge to consider a number of matters when making her final decision. He cited a series of precedents in the UK, where the court found unacceptable and too long, detentions ranging from three and a half months, to 10 months and one year, based on the fact that ongoing negotiations and meetings for the deportation of the claimants, were uncertain.

The defence lawyer noted that in Garcia’s case, his detention was far longer — two years, nine months and seven days. He also asked the judge to consider the nature of the obstacles standing in the way of completing arrangements for his client’s deportation.

Comissiong suggested that this was a two-edged sword, which suggests the minister should be given an extension or that Garcia ought to be freed if the obstacles were too great to surmount.

He observed, too, that the existing deportation order issued by the minister was only for him to be repatriated to Cuba, his place of birth which no longer wanted him.

In these circumstances, the attorney suggested that the order which had been existing for almost two years and nine months, could not be executed by immigration authorities.

He also reminded the court that his client had been issued with a Cuban passport on December 17, 2010, a document he has held for two years and still the State had not deported him. Comissiong did point out, though, that the Cuban authorities had indicated the passport was not to be used to enter Cuba, but for any other country.

“Although he has held a legitimate passport for two years, immigration has still not been able to deport him. As of today, 18th December, 2012, immigration still cannot say anything definite about deportation of the claimant to Cuba or to any other country for that matter,” he asserted.

Comissiong is arguing that Garica had served his 20 year prison term for cocaine charges, but was still being kept in detention by the immigration department in breach of his Constitutional liberty. The hearing resumes tomorrow at 11 a.m. (EJ)††††

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