Review by Kevin Baldeosingh
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After violence at ASJA Boys- $3,000 bail each for nine students
Nine students of the ASJA Boys’ College, Charlieville, who were allegedly involved in a fight during gang violence in the school on Tuesday, were each yesterday granted $3,000 bail on the condition that they report to the police station once a week. One of the boys’ mother collapsed in court after the police prosecutor expressed concern for the safety of other students and recommended that the teenagers be sent to a correction facility for guidance.
Each charged with disturbing the peace by fighting, the boys—aged 14, 15, 16, 17—pleaded not guilty when they appeared before Chaguanas Third Court Magistrate Brambhanan Dubay. Two of the boys are Form Five students while the others are in Form Four. They were all suspended following the incident.
In asking for bail, attorney Taradath Singh said the teenagers were trying to help two boys who were being beaten by other students. Singh said the teenagers were first-time offenders and have the support of members of the institution. However, police prosecutor Sgt Ken Ali countered that the boys were members of a gang in the school.
He said the students have been suspended before for a series of indisciplined acts, including fighting, assault, smoking, having explosive devices and disorderly conduct. He said two were suspended eight times, another seven times and two others six times.
History of violence
Ali said the incident started with two gangs involving students from Forms Four and Five on Friday. He said the accused disrupt school activities on a daily basis. Under the Young Offenders’ Act, he said the students could be sent to an industrial school, where they could be taught moral, spiritual and academic studies. The school’s vice-principal, Mr Rahaman, who was in the court, told the magistrate that increased violence at the school had been going on for a week now.
He recalled that a student involved in one of the gangs brought outsiders to beat up another child in the school. He said weapons, including knives, were used in Monday’s incident and the matter had been reported to the police. The magistrate said it was sad to see that ASJA, which has an excellent record, was being sullied through the act. That could be expected of a school like Mucurapo - also currently the subject of a probe into violence - he said, but he expected better standards from ASJA.
A parent in court claimed that her son was being victimised by one of the deans. Another claimed his son was beaten up and had to be sent for therapy. Singh said some of the parents have opted to take their children out of school. The vice-principal agreed that remanding the teenagers into custody was too harsh. “I will not tolerate any violence, any hang thing or any disruption in schools,” Dubay said.
Bail was granted with their parents as surety. They were ordered to report to the Chaguanas Police Station on Saturdays and the matter was adjourned to April 16.