By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A WOMAN accused of human trafficking declined to participate in an identification parade for a witness to pick out a suspect who withheld her passport and forced her into prostitution.
Instead, Apolonia McLean-Smith told police at the Central Detective Unit on October 3 that she wanted to have a confrontation with her accuser.
This was the evidence the court and accused McLean-Smith heard yesterday from Inspector Chantel Knowles in Magistrate’s Court no.9 before Chief Magistrate Joyanne Ferguson-Pratt.
McLean-Smith, a 23-year-old Jamaican, faces charges of “trafficking of a person”, “unlawful withholding of papers”, and “transporting a person for the purpose of exploiting such person for prostitution.” It was alleged that these offences were committed between May 1 and May 27 this year.
McLean, when arraigned on October 7, pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
It is claimed that McLean, for the purpose of trafficking of persons, recruited, transported, transferred, received and/or facilitated the arrival of a Jamaican woman into the Bahamas by means of deception or fraud.
It is further claimed that she withheld the Jamaican’s passport and brought her into the Bahamas to be exploited for prostitution.
The accused was denied bail after the court considered the serious nature of the charges.
In yesterday’s proceedings, prosecutor Darell Taylor called Inspector Knowles to the witness stand and the officer recalled the day of October 3.
Inspector Knowles said she was on duty that afternoon at CDU when around 4:20pm, she was given certain information about Apolonia McLean-Smith. She then saw McLean-Smith.
“I told her it was my intention to put her on an ID parade, to see if a witness would be able to ID a woman who withheld her passport and forced her into prostitution,” the officer said.
“Smith declined the ID parade and said she wanted to have a confrontation with the accuser,” the officer told the court.
The confrontation between the two occurred in the presence of Smith’s lawyer, Tonique Lewis, Inspector Knowles and Corporal 2641 Deveaux.
Knowles then went on to explain what transpired during the confrontation.
“Smith was a woman she knew as ‘Apple’ who had purchased her ticket to come to the Bahamas after discussing it on the phone,” Inspector Knowles said the complainant told her in front of the accused and her lawyer.
Upon the complainant’s arrival, “Apple” and a man collected her from the airport. She was informed by “Apple” that she had to pay the man who received her into the country before being taken to a home in Cable Beach.
“Apple” then took her to the Magic City nightclub and told her to follow the instructions of the other girls dancing. “Apple” told her to charge clients $300 for services and that she was a dancer.
The complainant then said she paid “Apple” money for the plane ticket and rent.
When her 10 days stay in the Bahamas had expired, she gave “Apple” her passport to get an extension for her, but did not get a chance to get it back because she was arrested by immigration.
Officer Knowles said McLean-Smith replied to the complainant’s accusations.
“The day I took her to the house, I told her I would buy her a SIM card and left,” the officer recalled the words of McLean-Smith.
“I never take her to Magic City. I never took any passport from her. I never took any money from her. She’s lying!” the accused replied during the confrontation.
Inspector Knowles said she ended the confrontation and received further information from a colleague.
She identified the accused in court as the person the allegations were made against during the confrontation.
In cross-examination, Ms Lewis asked Knowles if the complainant was informed of her rights to say whatever she wished.
“Yes,” Officer Knowles replied, adding that it was explained to her.
The lawyer then asked if it was a crime to purchase another person’s plane ticket and be reimbursed. The officer said it was not.
Ms Lewis also asked if picking someone up from the airport and receiving money for doing so was an offence. The officer said no.
When asked if she knew what Magic City was, the officer said “a night club.”
The lawyer asked the officer if she was aware that Magic City was patronised like any other club in the capital.
“I’m told customers go there,” the officer answered.
“Did you have a need to question any of the girls?” the lawyer asked. The officer said she had no need to go to Magic City to question anyone.
“During the confrontation, did she (complainant) say if the man forced her to do anything?” the lawyer asked.
“Not in the confrontation,” Officer Knowles replied.
The lawyer asked if her client had at any point admitted to any of the accuser’s allegations. The officer said that McLean-Smith admitted to taking the complainant to the house in Cable Beach, but “did deny taking monies from her and withholding her passport.”
The lawyer then asked if the complainant, at any point in the confrontation, said she asked McLean-Smith for the passport, but did not receive it.
The officer said no.
“Did she say she was forced to have sex with anybody?” the lawyer asked.
“She did say she was told to charge $300 for her services,” the officer replied. However, the officer admitted that the complainant did not explain what the services were or the clients.
The case resumes on January 29, 2014 for trial. However, the chief magistrate will hear McLean-Smith’s application for bail on December 30.