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Murder files not closed

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Police Commissioner William Harry has stated that the files on the murder of three French nationals and a national of Belgium are very much still open.

Commissioner Harry said that the French authorities have been very slow in forwarding evidence requested by this country and this has led to four accused persons being discharged.{{more}}

He was responding to a question at a press conference held at Police Headquarters Wednesday afternoon.

The Commissioner said that the French system is different to our system of justice and this difference creates a difficulty. He explained that under our Constitution, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty but the French has a system which says an accused person is presumed guilty until proven innocent. He said it is in this context that the process of acquiring the vital evidence is a rather slow one.

The Commissioner expressed optimism in eventually receiving the evidence which was requested over a year ago.

Julius Jeffers, 17, Sylvannus Williams, 19, Ken Charles, 24, and Leonard O’Garro, 36, were earlier this year discharged of the charge of murdering French nationals Pierre De La Londe, 20, Annie Astier, 19, Jean Noel Martin, 51, and Belgian Simonne Rolas, 59.

The Barrouallie residents were charged in July 2002, months after the foreigners’ charred bodies were fished out of the Peters Hope waters following the burning of their yacht, Sir Jean 1, on February 11 that year.

Williams and Jeffers’ lawyer, Olin Dennie called for their discharge at a court hearing in June this year. He contended that their constitutional rights were being violated because the prosecution had failed to have the preliminary inquiry started after two years.

Detective Chief Ernest James asked Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman for a one and a half month adjournment, telling the court that the office of the Attorney General had informed his department that the information will be made available sometime in August. But, when contacted around the middle of August, neither the Attorney General nor the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had received the evidence.