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Jun 30, 1999

Sol. Gen. says law guarantees detainees access to attorney

But while police are no doubt pleased to have their suspects officially charged and the Samantha Gordon case wrapping up, earlier this week there were complaints about the way the investigation was conducted, or more specifically the way those brought in for questioning were detained. Family members and the attorney for Warren Cabral protested his detention for a period they claimed exceeded the 72 hours allowed under the Constitution. Attorney Simeon Sampson, who is also the President of the Human Rights Commission, claimed Cabral had been unlawfully held for 8 days and denied counsel. Police Commissioner Ornel Brooks denied Sampson’s allegations saying that Cabral had been released after 72 hours then picked up again. But while Cabral was a suspect in the murder, a friend of the murdered Samantha Gordon, 17 year old Ann Bradley who police thought could help in the investigation, has also claimed she had been detained in excess of 72 hours. She says her attorney was unable to reach her and that this was not the first time she had been detained. Today News Five asked the Solicitor General Gian Ghandi to explain what the law really says about police detention and what a citizen is entitled to if he or she is taken into custody. He says that under the Constitution the police do have the right to question people during the course of the investigation of a crime, but that as soon as someone is detained they should be informed of their right to speak to an attorney and be allowed to do so. He says that any abuse of this right should be brought to the attention of the Minister of National Security and a complaint filed with the Commissioner of Police. In addition, citizens should know that the police do not have the right to take you into custody without an arrest warrant. If they come to your home, or approach you at your work or on the street, and say that someone at the police station wants to see you, you have the right to refuse if they have no warrant for your arrest.

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