BY: Christina Smith
16:03, October 28, 2016
The case brought against the Rastafarian family for failing to send their two children to school has been dropped.
The couple Ras Ijuijah and Istisabre appeared in the District A Magistrate Court bolstered by a legal team comprising of attorneys Ajamu Boardi, Andrew Pilgrim, Douglas Trotman and Sian Lange.
There was a legal showdown in the court this afternoon when Prosecutor Sargeant Neville Watson attempted to amend the charge the couple was found guilty of in September.
The charge was amended to include the dates the children were allegedly kept out of school, a point that counsel for the accused raised in court previously.
Lead counsel Pilgrim made a strong objection to the move made by the Prosecutor saying the process of “jucking in words” was not only “discourteous” but also against the practice of good law.
The two came to high words often during the proceedings as Prosecutor Watson maintained the charge was not a new one but Pilgrim called the charge “absolute nonsense”.
Pilgrim questioned the true motive of the prosecutor in trying to amend a charge the couple were already found guilty of, saying there seems to be undertones of prejudice arising.
He said according to Section 5.1 of the Amendment Act, where an amendment is applied late in the proceedings or where it seeks to substitute one charge for another, “it is not permissible”.
He called for the case to be dropped on the basis that both charges, the initial and amended one, were “defective” and the case contained multiple prejudices.
Magistrate Douglas Frederick told the court he did see some red flags with the charge as failure to register children in school is in itself not an offence if the children are receiving adequate education and if there are good grounds for homeschooling.
He therefore overturned his initial ruling, dropping the charges against the parents.
On the outside of the court there were hugs and cheers all around as the family, the legal team and members of the advocacy group, the African Heritage Foundation, celebrated the victory.
Ras Ijuijah told the media he was positive justice would prevail in the end. He added he is also expecting a similar outcome in the case against the Child Care Board at the High Court.
Earlier this morning, the family appeared in the Number 7 Supreme Court this morning, expecting to hear the verdict in the custody battle involving them and the Child Care Board (CCB). However, Justice McCarthy has requested more time to make an informed ruling and the matter has been adjourned until December 13, 2016.
PHOTO: Charles [Ras Ijui Jah] Lashley(backrow-R) and his partner Kim [Isartes Ibre] Jackman(backrow-L), posing with their children outside the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court
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