Jailed, freed – and jailed again!

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A bizarre and see-saw chain of events seem to surround an elderly man who was imprisoned for savagely killing his ex-wife six years ago.
It was on June 3rd 2013, in broad daylight and full view of others, that then 76-year-old Umberto Schenato unleashed a furious knife attack on his former spouse of 18 years in the busy parking lot of Epicurean Supermarket.
Then 71-year-old Edda Schenato died at the scene.
Umberto Schenato, an Italian-born engineer, stayed on remand for more than three years until he was found guilty on 20th September 2016 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Initially the lawyer who represented the accused Schenato was Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who would one year later go on to become the country’s Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs, Justice, Public Safety and Labour.
After that it was Lawrence Daniel and Sherfield Bowen who held brief for the killer ex-hubby.
Yesterday our newsroom got word that an unescorted Schenato was spotted out in the open, moving around unaccompanied by any police or prison guard, wearing clothes that were certainly not prison threads, and appearing every bit a free man.
Unconfirmed reports are that Schenato was refusing food in prison, causing his condition to deteriorate. He was taken to hospital where he continued the presumed hunger strike, resulting in a further and critical worsening of his health.
Italian diplomatic officials are said to have petitioned local authorities for clemency towards the now roughly 80-year-old.
But we were still quite some way from putting this story to bed last night when word came again that urgent orders were issued from higher up for Schenato to be found and re-incarcerated – immediately!
Recollections of Shannon Martinez may be unavoidable: an American visitor found in unlawful possession of ammunition in her luggage as she was departing Antigua (it turned out she had arrived with it undetected); taken to court, found guilty and sentenced to prison for one year – but set free after one day on the administrative discretion of prison authorities, endorsed by the government policymakers.
This was allegedly done on the grounds that Martinez’s incarceration might harm vital relations with her powerful home country, the US, possibly hurting Antigua and Barbuda’s lifeblood tourism in the process.
The Bar Association, among others, disagreed vehemently with what they considered to be the irregular and incorrect legal process employed to set Martinez free.
The matter was then, ostensibly, regularized through an after-the-fact grant of pardon by the Governor General – never mind the applicable law stating that such a pardon cannot be considered, much less granted, until the individual has served at least 30 days in prison.
Scheneto’s case curtainly cannot be equated to that of Martinez. But if the initial reports are confirmed, it should make for even more intriguing public discussion and debate.
Attempts to obtain comment and clarification from Attorney General Benjamin were unsuccessful.

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