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Defreitas faces charges for alleged ‘false statements’

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Proprietor of Nice Radio (96.7 FM) Douglas ‘Dougie’ DeFreitas is expected to appear in court today to answer charges relating to statements he made on his radio station the day following the December 9, 2015 general elections.{{more}}

DeFreitas was issued with a summons to appear in court almost seven months after the Nice Radio broadcast, in which he made a statement which the police allege was false and likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace.

DeFreitas is charged that at Dorsetshire Hill in St Vincent and the Grenadines and within the First Magisterial District, he did publish a false statement which was likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace to wit: “I have just had confirmation that six (6) of the ballots were unsealed and one (1) missing. Six (6) of the ballots were unsealed and one (1) missing. It means that something went on down there in the polling station and we are calling for by-elections by Monday. We want by-election; we don’t want…And I want the leadership to the NDP to find some transportation, get supporters to go down there and to get into place, please and persons who can go on their own, go down there and support Exeter on this matter.”

He was charged under Section 64 (1) of the Criminal Code, Chapter 171 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009, which states that “Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for one year.”

Section 64(2), however, says, “It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) if the accused person proves, prior to publication, he took such measures to verify the accuracy of such statement, rumour or report as to lead him reasonably to believe that it was true.”

After it was announced on December 9, 2015 that the Unity Labour Party had won the general elections by a 8-7 majority, the opposition NDP refused to accept the results and called out their supporters.

Two election petitions filed by the NDP are presently before the High Court.(LC)

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