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Trinidad: Judge orders V’zuelan woman freed

By Azard Ali

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Norlismar Cedeno being escorted by a female police officer to the San Fernando High Court. – AZARD ALI

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) —  BECAUSE she was scheduled to be deported after serving a prison sentence, a Venezuelan woman was kept in prison even after she had completed her jail term.

Justice Devindra Rampersad ordered Norlismar Cedeno, 26, released immediately, while rejecting a claim that her incarceration was valid because there was a deportation order against her. He also ordered the Commissioner of Prisons to pay her legal costs.

Cedeno pleaded guilty in the Chaguanas magistrates’ court on March 12, 2018, to illegally entering TT. She was fined $20,000 or in default to serve three years in jail. She began serving the jail term at the Women’s Prison, Golden Grove, Arouca, but in September, her relatives paid $10,018.25.

That was the outstanding amount when the time she had served was taken into account. The prison authorities use a prorated system of deducting the jail period or fine, depending on the amount paid or time served, when the court imposes a fine on a convicted person.

In a habeas corpus application, attorney Dave Persad contended that Cedeno’s sentence ought to have ended on September 9. He wrote to the prison authorities on October 4 demanding her release from prison and even asked for her to be deported under the Immigration Act.

However, Persad said, the prison authorities refused to release Cedeno.

The case came up before Rampersad in the San Fernando High Court last Wednesday. Attorneys for the prison authorities submitted that there was a detention order and in accordance with the Immigration Act, Cedeno’s continued imprisonment was justifiable.

Rampersad rejected the argument on the ground that no deportation order was ever served on Cedeno.

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