Turtle makes court appearance before its release back to sea

Less than an hour after four men appeared in court this morning charged with possession of a green turtle, the animal was released back into the sea.  

Geogory David, 56, a supervisor, Owen Vialva, 47, a fisherman, Phillip Phagoo, 26, a construction worker and Michael Joseph, 38, labourer of Cedros were each granted $50,000 bail with clerk of the peace approval.

They appeared before Point Fortin First Court Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan who also fixed a cash bail for each of them in the sum of $15,000. 

The men were arrested around 10.30 am on Monday after Customs Officers under the directive of Customs officer two Kirk Peters stopped a Nissan Navara at L'envieuesse Gardens, Galfa, Cedros.

It is alleged that the turtle was found in a crocus bag in the van.

The four occupants were arrested and subsequently charged by senior game warden Steve Seepersad. 

They were not called upon to plead to the charge which alleged that they were in possession of the environmentally sensitive spieces.

The offence under the environmental management act carries a maximum penalty $100,000 and two years imprisonment.

The one and half-year-old turtle was brought to the court in a cage. Attorney Kristoff Rambert requested bail for all four accused and prosecutor Sgt Jesse Jitmansigh did not object.

The matter was adjourned to March 11.

Game wardens Steve Seepersad, Andy Singh, Jeremy Dindial, Visham Madhu, and Forestry Division driver Hayden Simmons took the animal to the coastline near the Cedros jetty where they released it back into the ocean. 

- by Sascha Wilson

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