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75 ‘Latins’ in court on prostitution charges
Seventy-five women from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela created a spectacle yesterday when they appeared in the San Fernando Magistrates Court on prostitution charges. It took more than two hours for the women to appear before Fourth Court Magistrate Margaret Alert.
The women were arrested at a hotel in Vistabella last Friday night. They all pleaded not guilty. All but two spoke Spanish. However, only 65 of them were granted bail, amounting to $650,000. Because there were so many of them the women had to be detained in two courtrooms. The Fourth Court was cleared so that some of them could sit on chairs assigned to the public, while the others were kept in the Fifth Court which was not in session. The women, who were transported to court in two panel vans, appeared in batches before the magistrate. With the assistance of a Spanish interpreter, Luz Maria Tapais-de-Copilah, the magistrate read the charge to each of them that at Classic Seamen Hotel, “you did solicit passersby for the purpose of prostitution.”
Eight of the women, including two who said they were married to Trinidadians, were denied bail because they were in the country illegally. Another woman was remanded into custody until today for her address to be verified while another will reappear tomorrow for her status to be verified. The woman claimed she has an appointment with the immigration office for an extension of her stay.
The women were arrested during a joint exercise by San Fernando CID, Special Branch and Immigration Division and charged by PCs Jason Bailey, Clarence and others. Representing only a handful of the women were attorneys Subhas Panday, Jason Jackson, Shawn Teekasingh, Annalee Girwar and Ainsley Lucky. Sgt Veano Ragoo prosecuted. The eight who were denied bail are to reappear on March 21 and the others are to reappear on April 8, June 12 and June 24. Also appearing in court charged with managing a brothel were businessman Sheldon Lewis, Vaughn Eversley and Kern Ross. They were also arrested at the hotel but were granted bail at the station.
The men pleaded not guilty and are to reappear on April 23.
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