Illegal airstrip…slapped with conspiracy chargeA prominent Lethem businessman, who was named as the prime suspect by the recently-concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the construction of an illegal airstrip in Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), was on Monday slapped with a conspiracy charge.Hutashan Ramsingh, of Tabatinga, Lethem, was not required to plead to the indictable charge, which stated that between August 10, 2017 and August 13, 2017 at Mandacoro Island Savannah, Region Nine, he conspired with persons unknown to facilitate the illegal landing of an aircraft at an unauthorised port of entry.Defence Attorney Jerome Khan, in a bail application at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, related that his client was a father of two and owner of a construction and transportation company in Lethem with no antecedents or pending matters before the courts.Bail was nonetheless refused after a strong objection by the prosecution. As such, Ramsingh was remanded to prison until March 5, 2018 when the case would be called at the Lethem Magistrate’s Court.In August of this year, an abandoned Brazilian-registered Kingair Beechcraft PR-1MG was discovered on an illegal airstrip in the vicinity of Santa Fe, Rupununi. The aircraft, which is reported to have been used in the trafficking of guns and drugs, was seized by local authorities.Following the investigations, Ramsingh and two other residents of Lethem – Wazim King, 37, and Nathan Hamilton, 21 – were flown to Georgetown to assist with investigations. Ramsingh was released on $50,000 station bail while King and Hamilton were hauled before the courts to be charged for a similar offence of conspiracy to commit a felony. They are presently out on $400,000 bail and the case is before the Lethem Magistrate’s Court.When the duo first appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, their lawyers, Michael Somersaul and Jerome Khan, had contended that their clients had no knowledge that the airstrip or airplane was illegal, since they were merely hired by Ramsingh for the building of a “road”. The lawyers had bemoaned the release of Ramsingh and blasted the Police for “covering up” and conducting investigations that left much to be desired.However, on Monday, Khan indicated that his client, Ramsingh, had merely rented out a Bobcat and some equipment which were used to grade the airstrip. King was alleged to have been the Bobcat driver while Hamilton was hired to operate the said machinery.The Police had contended that following his release in September, Ramsingh had fled the jurisdiction, but his lawyer sought to refute this claim by contending that Ramsingh became fearful for his life and was keeping a low profile working in the savannahs after he heard that some people were looking to kill him.Earlier this month, a team of detectives travelled to Lethem to escort him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters in the city as part of the probe.The findings of the CoI say that Ramsingh had been seen with his vehicle frequenting the area before the plane had landed. Moreover, reports indicate that Singh had also been involved in similar cases of illegal aircraft landings in other areas in the region namely Parabara, Manwar, Mountain Point and Mandakara Airstrip.