By NEWSDAY REPORTERS Thursday, October 24 2013
FIVE ‘lifers’ (persons serving life sentences) including two Antiguan nationals — jailed for drug trafficking — and three Trinis, jailed for murder, have received a Presidential Pardon from President Anthony Carmona.
At about 5 pm, the five lifetime prisoners were removed from their cells at the maximum security prison at Golden Grove Prisons in Arouca and taken to the Port-of-Spain prison where their documents were processed before their release.
This was Carmona’s first presidential pardon since his appointment. The three Trinidadians are Lal Seerattan, Ramesh ‘Bumbay’ Maharaj and Clive Brack while the two Antiguans are George Nathan and Glenroy Matthews. There was a report of a sixth prisoner being pardoned but up to press time this could not be confirmed.
Seerattan was arrested and charged with murder in 1982. A year later, the charge was reduced to manslaughter and he was released on bail. In 1984, he was re-arrested and brought to trial on a murder charge.
The case was heard in the Port-of-Spain High Court in 1986 and Seerattan was found guilty. Ramesh Maharaj was arrested for murder on September 7, 1978 and subsequently convicted.
Yesterday, Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez confirmed to Newsday that the five prisoners had been ordered released by President Carmona who under the Constitution, has the authority to grant such pardons to lifetime prisoners. Martinez said the two Antiguan prisoners are to be handed over to the Immigration authorities for deportation back to their homeland while the three Trinidadians were last night expected to be received by their relatives outside the Port-of-Spain prison.
Newsday understands that when the prisoners learnt they were being pardoned they began crying and this prompted thunderous applause from other lifetime prisoners, whom they shared cells with. Other prisoners said they now live with hope that they too, one day, will be pardoned by President Carmona.
The five were among 50 prisons expected to be pardoned during last year’s 50th Independence Day celebrations but this never materialised.