Pub­lic Ser­vices’ As­so­ci­a­tion (PSA) Pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke has been re­leased on $250,000 bail af­ter ap­pear­ing in court to an­swer a sedi­tion charge.

Duke, who is al­so the Mi­nor­i­ty Leader of the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly, was tak­en to the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trates’ Court short­ly af­ter he was dis­charged from the Port-of-Spain Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal, this morn­ing.

Dur­ing his brief court ap­pear­ance be­fore Mag­is­trate Adia Mo­hammed, Duke, who dressed in blue suit, was not called up­on to plead to the in­dictable charge.

Po­lice pros­e­cu­tors ini­tial­ly ob­ject­ed to bail for Duke as they point­ed out that he had pend­ing charges for rape, in­de­cent as­sault, and dis­or­der­ly con­duct. They al­so ex­pressed fears over whether the con­tro­ver­sial trade union was made an­oth­er al­leged­ly sedi­tious state­ment if he is re­leased.

The ob­jec­tion was even­tu­al­ly over­ruled by Mo­hammed, who grant­ed him bail. She then ad­journed the case to De­cem­ber 13.

Duke’s hos­pi­tal vis­it af­ter he was charged on Thurs­day night, was his third since first be­ing de­tained by po­lice, on Mon­day.

Short­ly af­ter Spe­cial Branch po­lice ex­e­cut­ed search war­rants at the PSA’s head­quar­ters at Aber­crom­by Street in Port-of-Spain and at his home, Duke com­plained of feel­ing un­well and was tak­en to the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex in Mt Hope.

He was even­tu­al­ly dis­charged on Wednes­day evening but was tak­en back to the hos­pi­tal af­ter com­plain­ing of feel­ing un­well, yes­ter­day morn­ing.

The sedi­tion charge against Duke re­lates to state­ments on pro­posed lay­offs at TSTT, T&TEC, and WASA, which he made in a press con­fer­ence on No­vem­ber 16, last year.

Duke re­port­ed­ly said: “We must be pre­pared to die, folks, You know why? This is your be­lief, this is your fam­i­ly, and I am send­ing the mes­sage clear, let Row­ley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are pre­pared to die and the morgue would be pick­ing up peo­ple.”

Duke is be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Gilbert Pe­ter­son, SC, and John Heath.

The Sedi­tion Act

Un­der the Sedi­tion Act, a per­son is guilty of an of­fence if they at­tempt to do an act with a sedi­tious in­tent, com­mu­ni­cates a state­ment with a sedi­tious in­tent or dis­trib­ute ma­te­r­i­al con­tain­ing sedi­tious in­tent.

A per­son con­vict­ed of an of­fence faces a $3,000 fine and up to two years in prison on sum­ma­ry con­vic­tion and a $20,000 fine and up to five years in prison if they are con­vict­ed be­fore a judge and ju­ry in the High Court.

The leg­is­la­tion de­fines sedi­tious in­tent as an in­ten­tion to bring con­tempt and ha­tred to the Gov­ern­ment; to raise dis­af­fec­tion amongst in­hab­i­tants of T&T; to en­gen­der or pro­mote feel­ings of hos­til­i­ty against any class of cit­i­zens of T&T dis­tin­guished by race, colour, re­li­gion or pro­fes­sion; or to pro­mote vi­o­lence against a par­tic­u­lar group.

State­ments are not con­sid­ered sedi­tious if they in­tend to show that the Gov­ern­ment has been mis­led or mis­tak­en in its mea­sures or point out er­rors and de­fects in an ef­fort to pro­mote their law­ful ref­or­ma­tion.

“In de­ter­min­ing whether the in­ten­tion with which any act was done, any words were spo­ken or com­mu­ni­cat­ed, or any doc­u­ment was pub­lished, was or was not sedi­tious, every per­son shall be deemed to in­tend the con­se­quences which would nat­u­ral­ly fol­low from his con­duct at the time and un­der the cir­cum­stances in which he so con­duct­ed him­self,” the leg­is­la­tion states.