By: Gavincia Clarke
(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- Ricardo Enrique Blanco a national of Cuba but who resides at Bath Village appeared before the District ‘C’ Magistrate Court on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, charged with receiving one (1) United States passport valued at $297.00 E.C. the property of the United States of America Government. Blanco pleaded guilty.
It was reported that sometime between June 5 and September 15, 2013 Blanco received a United States passport and during that period Blanco tried to use the passport to travel to the United States. While at the airport, authorities realized that the document was false and was reported stolen. Blanco was arrested.
In court after the charge was read to the defendant, Her Honor, Magistrate Yasmine Clarke informed the Police Prosecution that was led by Inspector Stephen Hector that the passport is not a St. Kitts and Nevis passport and therefore officers on Nevis do not have the authority to detain and charge Blanco for the issues surrounding a U.S passport.
To this Hector tried to debate the ruling of the Magistrate but then she questioned, “If he had pleaded not guilty who would you have brought to court to prove that the passport was stolen. It is not a St. Kitts and Nevis passport; you do not have to authority to prosecute”.
The Magistrate then turned to Attorney Ricardo Caines and indicated to him, “I blame you; you should not have let your client plead guilty for such a bad charge”.
In his defense, Caines stated that he tried to have the matter resolve outside of the courthouse but indicated that sometimes the Police Prosecution fails to take advice from the lawyers. According to Caines, his client wants to go back home to Cuba and this was the only way for his client to leave the Federation. He continued, ‘if he had been found guilty I would have asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence but to be deported him to his home land’.
Magistrate Clarke told Attorney Caines that she was not going to deport Blanco and if the U.S Government wants him they would have to extradite him. ‘Whenever Blanco is ready to leave the island it is all up to him’, Magistrate Clarke indicated.
Blanco, whose main language is Spanish, had no idea what was being said until the court’s translator spoke in Spanish ‘you’re free to go’, ‘usted es libre de ir’. Blanco gave a deep sigh and made a sign of the cross on his chest as if he was symbolizing ‘thank you Jesus’.