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Chief Magistrate to give decision in Luke Browne case Friday morning

Chief Magistrate to give decision in Luke Browne case Friday  morning


Chief Magistrate Sonya Young is expected to make a decision at 10:30 this morning in the private criminal complaint brought against Luke Browne, the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East Kingstown.{{more}}

The complaint, brought by East Kingstown resident Patricia Marva Chance, is that Browne “did induce Onika Antoine of Redemption Sharpes to register to vote in the said East Kingstown without the requisite residential qualification contrary to Section 51 of Cap 6 of the Representation of the People Act.”

“My decision will not be in writing, but I want to see what you have to give, and I will give my determination at 10:30,” Young told Nicole Sylvester, legal counsel for Chance. Sylvester had made a request to provide the court with more cases to support the prosecution’s argument.

Sylvester was given until 9 this morning to submit further cases in support of the prosecution’s counteraction to the defence’s claim that the charge does not fit into section 51.

Ronald Marks, member of the defence team told SEARCHLIGHT that his team had raised the issue that an offence was committed only after the person had gone to vote.

“It is the act that constitutes the offence,” Marks opined.

“We don’t see how their legal minds could have made such a blatant error, but we will leave it to the court to make a decision,” he continued.

“Our position is that the offence can only be committed if that person votes.”

But the prosecution team of Sylvester and Kay-Bacchus-Browne argued that the offence is completed by inducing the person to vote, not after he or she votes.

“We do not agree with the submission of the defence that the person has to vote,” Bacchus-Browne argued.

She contended that Section 51 does address penalties for illegal practices during election.

Bacchus-Browne further argued that the election period begins after the Governor General has issued the writ.

“Election is a process, not just when you go to vote,” Bacchus-Browne said.

“It is disjunctive; the offence is completed by inducing person to vote, not after.”

So too, Sylvester made the point that the purpose of Section 51 was to criminalize acts committed before, during and after an election.

“It is a sanitization act,” Sylvester maintained.

She further contended that it was the intention of the action that was the most important factor in making a determination as to whether or not the act was criminal.

And according to Sylvester, if an individual was moved from one constituency into another which they are not entitled to be in, and “is taken by the candidate who assists them …” this act triggers inducing or procurement.

But Grahame Bollers, member of the defence team rebutted and maintained the notion as was earlier put to the court, that Section 51 was clear and it addresses an offence which is committed on Election Day, not before.

Richard Williams, also a member of the defence team further contended that the court needed to make a distinction between whether or not the individual was procured and induced to vote or to become a voter.

However Young maintained that the issue was in the phrase “to vote”, as is included in the charge brought against Luke Browne, and its interpretation; a point she maintained throughout yesterday’s court session.

Browne was placed on $5000 bail.

Meanwhile, Browne is maintaining his stance that he has done no wrong.

“The attempt on me is the same what they tried to do young men and women who wanted to register; there was considerable intimidation and harassment of young men and women and it is just an extension of what has been happening,” Browne said at a press conference Wednesday, December 8.

“We have the courage to endure this as we have done nothing wrong,” he continued.

“In East Kingstown, there is a connection which suggests that there is going to be a change in this constituency and they (NDP) are reacting to that.”

Browne said that he was happy with the way in which persons braved the harassment and intimidation.

“Their courage fortifies me,” he said adding that he was more than confident that he would come through the false charges and diversions.

The matter regarding Afi Jack who was accused of making a false claim to be registered as a voter in East Kingstown has been adjourned until February 4, 2011; she was subsequently placed on $2000 bail.