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Justice Thom turns down application for leave

Justice Thom turns down application for leave


Lawyers for Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ accuser may face legal action, an attorney for the Attorney General has warned.

“It is an abuse of the process, we see it as an attempt to use the judicial process to score political points,” said Anthony Astaphan SC.{{more}}

Astaphan represented the Attorney General in the just concluded matter, in which Dr Gonsalves’ accuser sought leave to appeal the decision of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to discontinue rape charges against Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Justice Gertel Thom last Tuesday ruled that she found “no arguable grounds for a review” as she delivered her judgment to a packed court room, which included the 36-year-old police woman who has made the accusations against Dr Gonsalves.

But Astaphan, who was speaking from Grenada on the radio call in programme “Shake Up”, said that the matter was “political and ridiculous”, and said that neither his client, the Attorney General, nor the DPP, should allow it to rest like that.

The high profile Dominican attorney charged that the criminal proceeding against Prime Minister Dr Gonsalves is a ‘frontal attack on the administration of justice.”

Astaphan said that he hoped that the judge’s ruling will show Vincentians that there is a “fundamental separation between noise making on a political platform…at a press conference, and the ability to establish a case by evidence before a High Court in accordance to the principles of law and facts and evidence.”

Meanwhile, one of the lawyers representing Dr Gonsalves’ accuser, Emery Robertson, indicated to Justice Thom his client’s intention to appeal, which Justice Thom instructed him should be delivered formally.

Speaking outside the court, Robertson told SEARCHLIGHT that Justice Thom’s decision is one that can be appealed.

“I hold a contrary view (of the Judge’s decision) but the Judge is the Judge, so for now we will have to abide by her ruling,” Roberston said.

“Obviously we will take it further,” he said.

Robertson’s colleague Nicole Sylvester however admitted that people may view the judgment as a victory for Dr Gonsalves.

She said that it was important to note however, that the judgment had nothing to do with the merits of the allegations one way or the other.

“All that (the judgment) says is that in relation to the act of the DPP, the constitution says he could withdraw the case, that’s it,” Sylvester said.

In her 23-page judgment, Justice Thom, among other things found that according to section 64 of the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines “It was not necessary for the Director of Public Prosecution to take over the complaints before he discontinued them. However, having taken them over, under Section 64 he was empowered to discontinue them at any time before judgment.”

She also dismissed the applicant’s claim that the DPP’s decision was shrouded in bias and bad faith, saying that the allegation of bad faith was “indeed vague and unparticularized.”

Justice Thom also found that Chief Magistrate Sonya Young acted within her jurisdiction by complying with the DPP’s notice of discontinuance.

She said that the notice of discontinuance was entered at the very court to which the complaints were made and the summons issued.

“Further the nolle prosequi was entered before the accused person was required to attend count pursuant to the summons. The matter was never before the Family Court,” Justice Thom said.

“The magistrate has no jurisdiction to hold any hearing after a nolle prosequi is entered,” she further states.

Justice Thom however refused to grant costs to the Attorney General as was requested by Anthony Astaphan SC.

“Having regard to the background of this case which I outlined earlier in this judgment, I do not find that the Applicant acted unreasonably in making the application or in the conduct of the application. I therefore make no order as to costs,” she said.

On Thursday, February 28th, Justice Thom heard submissions from Emery Robertson and Kay Bacchus Browne on behalf of the police woman, Sir Richard Cheltenham QC for DPP Colin Williams, Anthony Astaphan SC for Attorney General Judith Jones Morgan, and Parnel Campbell QC for Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, in this matter.