Former President of the National Youth Council Nash Mitchell and Lyndon Marie of Sisserou Singers fame are in hot water after they appeared in court late on Monday afternoon on forgery charges.
They are facing charges of 14 counts of forgery, including the possession and uttering of forged Commonwealth of Dominica passports and birth certificates.
The crimes allegedly took place between November 11, 2005 to March 31, 2011.
The men were denied bail late Monday evening when they appeared before Magistrate Ossie Lewis at the Roseau Magistrate Court after being arrested last week.
During the proceedings, Magistrate Lewis heard first from police prosecution who objected to the bail of the accused. Police prosecution alleges that the two may be part of a wider conspiracy to obtain and issue Dominican passports to persons who are not nationals of Dominica by birth or nationalization. They believe it is the tip of the iceberg in an investigation that involve many other persons and will take some days to unravel to any degree of thoroughness.
Already 40 forged passports have been reportedly identified by police. Police believes there are more and that the alleged passport scam has placed Dominica’s sovereignty into the focus of the international community with consequences for legitimate passport holders.
Documents which Nash and Lyndon are alleged of forging bear names such as Mohamed Hajid, Abda Abdul Ambuka and other Islamic based identities. “Probably tomorrow you might hear an Al Quada person get caught and a Dominican passport is in the hands of that person,” police prosecution told the court.
The Prosecution asked the court to deny bail to the two accused saying if given freedom the defendants pose are flight risk and could possible “tamper with witnesses and interfere with ongoing investigations.”
In her turn at the table before Magistrate Lewis, defense counsel Heather Felix Evans told the court that “the prosecution has no concrete and substantial evidence that the defendants would tamper with documentary evidence which are in the custody of the state.”
Evans reminded the court of the fundamental rights of the accused, including the presumption of innocence and the right to liberty. She also pointed out that both men were friendly and positively integrated into society, public officers of long standing, and their involvement in sports, church and community.
“There may be persons (co-conspirators) involve at the Registry or Immigration office,” the prosecution rebutted.
“Bail temporarily withhold can never counter the question of liberty,” Magistrate Lewis asserted while handing down his decision to deny bail. He added that investigations a still in its “embryonic stages and if granted bail it may defeat the cause for justice.”
The matter will appear before the court again in the middle of June.