Attorney says public safety minister has no power to revoke remissions

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The public safety minister’s decision to overturn his own order to release several convicts late last week was – according to former High Court Master Charlesworth Tabor – an unlawful act which will be challenged in court.
Tabor, now in private practice, said Steadroy Benjamin – as the minister responsible for prisons and attorney general – abused his powers when he rescinded the remissions which facilitated the release of the convicted individuals, three of them for particularly heinous homicides.
“While the attorney general has the power to remit sentences because of the Prison Amendment Act 2017, he doesn’t have the power to revoke,” he said.
Section 40 of the Prison Rules gives the Superintendent of Prisons power to recommend to the minister the remission of sentences for prisoners due to good behaviour among other things.
Tabor however said that Section 15 of the same Prison Rules indicates that once there’s a remission of the remaining time on the sentence, the sentence “shall expire immediately and that is where the unlawful revocation by Mr. Benjamin comes in, because the sentence has expired once he granted the remission. So it was wrong to return them to prison.”
It was the attorney general who, by his own admission, signed the warrants to release the eight individuals upon the advice of Albert Wade some weeks ago, while he (Wade) was still the Superintendent of Prisons.
Once he revoked his decision to release them, several out of the eight were later detained and taken to the former US Naval Base pending deportation, or back to Her Majesty’s Prison to serve out the remaining time on their sentences.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Benjamin indicated he was in a meeting, while calls to former prison chief Wade rang out.
The three convicted killers who were released and then detained again are: former policeman Gideon Jackson who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Umberto Schenato who was found guilty of murder, and Surowidjojo Bryan “Red Rat” Frederik who pleaded guilty to murder. The others are sex offenders Derrick Brady, Mandela Samuel and Osuide Simpson; fraudster Emerlene Henry; and career animal thief Kenrick Wiltshire.
Tabor represents Brady and he said he is considering several legal options as it relates to his client being given his freedom only to have it taken away again within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, relatives of victims whose killers were released on Thursday and Friday last week without serving their full sentences, have condemned the attorney general’s decision to grant them remission and to do so without any consultation with or notification to those who are still grieving.

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