Williams's arrest malicious - Bar Association
Stabroek News
July 16, 2002

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The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) considers the arrest of attorney-at-law Basil Williams unlawful and a gross interference with the exercise of his professional duty. Speaking with reporters yesterday at a press conference at the GBA's Brickdam offices, GBA President Nigel Hughes said that it smacks of maliciousness and the association considers it an act of gross intimidation, which it finds unacceptable.

He said that the GBA had carried out an investigation into the circumstances of Williams and concluded that Williams had committed no offence either at the hospital or at the Brickdam Police Station.

Hughes said that because the GBA considered Williams' arrest a serious matter, it has contacted the International Bar Association, the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, the president of the Organisation of Commonwealth Bar Associations as well as the Law Society of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bar Associations of St Lucia and Barbados about the matter.

He said that the GBA also contacted the Commissioner of Police about the incident and was told that the matter was being investigated. About two weeks ago, the GBA met the commissioner and discussed just such an incident in theory with him, Hughes said and they had agreed to establish a cordial working relationship.

Khemraj Ramjattan, GBA's vice-president, endorsed Hughes' sentiments. He pointed out that the constitution guarantees the right to counsel of one's choice. He said that Williams' arrest was seen as an act of suppression. "What occurred did not go down well," Ramjattan observed.

Williams, an attorney in practice for about 18 years at the local bar, was arrested on Saturday when he visited the Brickdam Police Station at the request of the police following a visit he made to a client at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Williams told reporters that at the time he visited his client she had been discharged from the hospital. He said that while there he had spoken with the woman and her relatives. He said that there were no police officers at her bedside, but there was one several beds away. Also, a policeman spoke with him outside the hospital building.

Williams said he returned to his east Georgetown home and later saw a vanload of armed policemen outside. They informed him that he was invited to go to the Brickdam Police Station. Williams said that he told them he would speak with Commander of 'A' Division, Asst Com Larry George. He said that he did so and was told that he was wanted in connection with aiding someone in an illegal act. He said he explained himself to the commander and thought that the matter was at an end. However, much later as he, his wife and son were leaving home, he saw two policemen in front of his home. He said they informed him that he was wanted at the Brickdam Police Station.

Williams said he went to the station and there was a confrontation with a police officer. He said nothing in the policeman's statement indicated that he had committed any offence but yet he was not allowed to leave for about two hours. Williams said that his counsel present at the station initialed the statement made by the officer. He said that even when he was allowed to leave no one could tell him why he had been invited to the Brickdam Police Station.