By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A JUDGE yesterday ordered the removal of the electronic monitoring device and return of the passport to an American man acquitted of human trafficking charges.
Michael Parrilla appeared before Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs for a variation of the bail conditions that had been imposed on him in September 2015 while he awaited the conclusion of trial concerning the alleged trafficking and harbouring of five women for sexual exploitation in January 2015.
Parilla, Terrance Williams and Mariska Williams were cleared of nearly a dozen human trafficking related charges in Magistrate’s Court in May when Magistrate Constance Delancy read the decision of then trial magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt.
The prosecution had asked for a stay of the decision pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Parilla, an American citizen, had complained that he was unable to work and take care of his family due to the trial and bail conditions. He was told that he would have to make an application to the Supreme Court where he had received bail.
Parilla did just that and received a hearing before Senior Justice Isaacs yesterday morning.
The judge questioned why he was still on bail when he had already been acquitted.
Parilla said he had no idea of how the legal system worked in the Bahamas but could no longer endure not being able to financially sustain himself and his family while away from his home country.
Prosecutor Maria Zancolla did not object to the return of his passport or removal of the monitoring device.
The judge ordered the removal of the monitoring device and return of his passport, allowing for Parilla to return to the US.
At Parilla’s trial, the five complainants did not appear to give evidence concerning the allegations against the three accused. However, their statements to police were allowed into the record through Section 66 of the Evidence Act, which gives the court the discretion to allow the statements of witnesses who are dead, cannot be found, or are too sick to testify into evidence.
The statements revealed that the five women knowingly came to The Bahamas to engage in exotic dancing but were not brought to the capital by the accused.
Though they claimed that they were not allowed to leave the apartment where they stayed unaccompanied, there were no claims of their passports being taken from them or being forced to have sex with anyone against their will.
The presiding trial magistrate had found that the Crown had not made out a sufficient case to warrant a conviction.
The three accused were defended by Tonique Lewis and Keith Seymour.