By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A SUPREME Court judge has approved the filing of a writ of habeas corpus against the police and prison authorities for their alleged unlawful detention of a Haitian man recently acquitted of an illegal entry charge, The Tribune can confirm.
The Tribune understands that Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs, after meeting with counsel for Jean-Mary Justilien, 27, on Tuesday granted leave for his attorneys to issue the writ on his behalf, which seeks to determine if the state’s detention of a prisoner is valid and/or legal.
Fred Smith, QC, told The Tribune that his legal team consisting of Adrian Gibson and Alexander Morley are now scheduled to appear before Justice Cheryl Grant-Bethel on December 10 at 1pm to commence proceedings into the matter.
The Tribune understands that Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade and the Commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) Patrick Wright are listed as the first and second respondents, respectively.
Justilien was remanded to prison after he was charged in the Magistrate’s Court for illegal entry in June. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
On Tuesday, however, Magistrate Andrew Forbes found that there was no evidence to show that Justilien illegally entered the country in June as alleged, and ruled that Justilien’s charge be dismissed and that he be discharged from custody.
However, despite the ruling, Justilien was required to remain in custody until certain requisite “administrative procedures” had been carried out.
When contacted yesterday, Mr Smith told The Tribune Justilien still had not been released, and that neither he nor his legal team had determined just where he was being held.
“We don’t know,” he said. “They didn’t release him last night (Tuesday) so we don’t know what they’ve done with him. We’ve been trying to find him.”
Meanwhile, the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA), which Mr Smith is president of, yesterday expressed concern that Justilien is in danger of reprisal from “certain officers” while being “unlawfully” detained in the state’s custody.
The association called for his immediate release from custody.
“His current treatment is a gross violation of the fundamental tenets of our legal system, which holds that individuals are innocent until proven guilty and that the state cannot detain people without cause,” the GBHRA said in a statement.
Justillien was shot during an immigration round up in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, on June 9 and airlifted to the Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment. He was discharged from hospital on June 11.
Justilien was later taken into police custody on suspicion of assaulting a police officer and an immigration officer in the execution of their duties, according to police in an earlier statement.
Police later concluded that the alleged assault resulted in the accidental discharge of the police officer’s service revolver “causing injuries to the face and shoulder of the suspect.”
The medical report revealed the bullet entered at the back of Justilien’s neck and exited his left cheek.
In September, Justilien filed a writ against the government seeking $500,000 in damages for the shooting and breaches to his constitutional rights.