A Cuban businessman was on Tuesday morning freed of Trafficking In Persons (TIP) charges, when Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan said there was insufficient evidence to convict him.
Eladio Pereza, owner of Bollywood Club on the East Bank of Demerara, allegedly trafficked a Cuban female for sexual exploitation between March 1, 2016 and January 20, 2017 at the said nightclub.
Magistrate McLennan in her decision on Tuesday stated that the prosecution failed to prove the necessary elements of trafficking in order to convict Pereza of the offence.
She added that the defendant’s case was coherent and believed the story to be well corroborated by the Virtual Complainant’s statements throughout the trial.
Thereby having considered all of the evidence, the Magistrate dismissed the charge.
The businessman first appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on January 23, 2017, and was remanded to prison by the Chief Magistrate after he pleaded not guilty to the charge, which alleged that he recruited, transported and harboured a fellow Cuban female for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Defence Attorney Mark Conway related that Pereza, 34, is resident of Guyana for two years and is married to a Guyanese woman.
Throughout the trial, the 34-year-old man maintained his innocence.
Tuesday, however, does not mark Pereza’s ultimate court appearance, as he is set to again face the court on March 15, when he will be charged with intention to commit a felony.
Meanwhile, the Social Protection Ministry’s Counter Trafficking in Persons Unit in a statement on Tuesday acknowledged the decision by the court in the case against Pereza.
According to the Ministry, it will continue to fight to bring perpetrators of this most egregious and odious act to justice and pledges it’s support, protection and strong defence for victims involved in TIP.
In continuing the fight against Trafficking In Persons, an enforcement activity in Issano, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) conducted over the weekend saw two alleged victims (minors) being rescued. They are currently in the protective care of the Unit assisting with investigations and are currently receiving psychosocial assistance and counseling.