Nathaniel John

FLASHBACK: Police officers restrain Nathaniel John during a protest at the St Augustine campus of the The University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2018.

TWO students who were arrested and charged following heated protests at The University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2018 have been cleared.

The matter came up before Magistrate Sherene Murray-Bailey and the students— Nathaniel John and Brian Richards— were defended by attorneys Keith Scotland, Prakash Ramadhar, Brian Baig and Kyshia Kydd-Hannibal, led by John Jeremy SC.

Richards was charged with disorderly conduct and John was charged with obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest during a protest at The UWI’s St Augustine campus.

The matter was set for trial via virtual proceedings.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) withdrew the case against Richards.

Scotland, speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, said the attorneys had indicated they were ready for trial as the DPP was pursuing the matter against John.

He said the DPP objected to hearing the matter virtually and the attorneys responded.

Scotland said the court upheld their submission that after ten hearings over two years the matter was set for trial yesterday.

The matter was stood down and then recalled for the complainant to appear.

He said the complainant came and the prosecution objected to calling its witness and “we made a submission in law that all the protocols were observed with the practice direction as the matter should go on and the magistrate upheld our submissions and we made a no case submission which was upheld,” he said, adding that the two matters were then dismissed.

Scotland said: “It’s a removal of the clouds, I feel for two years their lives have been literally put on hold and I’m very happy that this happened.”

Scotland said the lesson learned from this was the need for vigilance across the board in every walk of life.

Ramadhar also speaking to the Express by phone said he was happy for the young men that their heavy burden had been lifted.

“They were acting in what I consider to be a very noble effort, highlighting the issue of crime at the university and the need for protection of students at UWI,” he said.

Stood up for what was right

Ramadhar said they should not have been made victims of that effort of social consciousness and awareness.

“I feel personally very happy and I look forward to moving with a complete integrated sense of public commitment to stand up for that which is right and always to speak your mind even in the face of sometimes State oppression,” he said.

John and Richards were arrested after they tried to prevent officers from reopening the gates of the campus to traffic as students called for UWI management to better handle student safety at the university.

The protest was sparked by an attempted rape of a second-year student by an unknown assailant at the Student Activity Centre (SAC).

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