By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THREE foreign nationals, two Colombians and one Haitian, were arraigned in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court on Friday for overstaying and illegal landing.
Diana Mireya Quintero Briceno, 43, and Gary Alexander Paez Manotas, 35, of Colombia along with Jackson Jean, 34, of Port de Paix, Haiti, appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Debbye Ferguson in Court Three.
Interpreters were brought in to assist the court.
Briceno and Manotas pleaded guilty to the charge of overstaying. According to the particulars, both entered the country legally and were granted a period of seven days by an immigration officer. However, it was discovered that they had overstayed their time in the country by one month.
An immigration officer told the court that on March 28 at about 11.30am, while on routine patrol on Polaris Drive, immigration officers saw the pair walking towards the Stop and Shop. As they were acting in a suspicious manner, the officers approached them.
They were asked their legal status and to produce their passports. The pair did not have their passports on them and the officers accompanied them back to their apartment where they were shown two Colombian passports, which revealed that Briceno and Manotas entered the country on February 28 and were landed for a period of one week.
Briceno told the judge that she was not aware she had to apply for an extension, and apologised to the court.
“I travelled to a lot of countries…and I did not have to apply for extension in those other countries, which did not check those things. Nobody told me I could apply to have an extension,” she explained with the aid of an interpreter.
She added that her father had died and she wanted to stay in the country to avoid going back to deal with the sadness of his death.
Manotas told the court that he too did not know he had to get an extension and apologised.
“I am ashamed of this matter and I ask the judge to be compassionate towards us,” he said.
Magistrate Ferguson explained that while the court appreciates them as visitors they broke the law by overstaying their time in the country. “If I went to Colombia, I am granted a period of time to stay there as the law allows. The law in the Bahamas allows you to ask for more time which would have been considered and awarded – that is the law you both have breached,” she said.
The judge fined both Briceno and Manotas $3,000 each, or 18 months in prison. Both paid their fines and were turned over to Department of Immigration officials for deportation to Colombia.
On the matter of illegal landing, Jean pleaded guilty and was fined $300 or one year in prison.
According to the particulars, on March 28, Jean was found in Freeport having landed from a place outside the Bahamas without the leave of an immigration officer.
Jean paid his fine and was turned over to immigration officials for deportation to Haiti.