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PM: Drug convict’s pardon was in interest of national security

PM: Drug convict’s pardon was in interest of national security

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Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves will not disclose the reasons for pardoning convicted drug dealer Alex Lawrence.

At a press conference on Wednesday, January 17, 2007, the Prime Minister made it clear it was done as a matter of national security.{{more}}

The Members of the Perogative of Mercy Committee that pardoned Lawrence are Prime Minister, Dr.Ralph Gonsalves who is the Chairman, Sir Vincent Beache, Attorney General the Hon. Judith Jones-Morgan, the Hon. Girlyn Miguel, Dr. Ellsworth Charles and Pastor Steve Phillips.

“I am satisfied on the basis of the information which was before me that the decision in the interest of the national security was a good decision. Don’t ask me what information it was because I will not tell you and I will not tell anyone,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

He said he might tell Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, the reasons if he is prepared to take the oath of secrecy like the other members of the committee.

On Tuesday, January 16, at a press conference, Opposition Leader the Hon. Arnhim Eustace demanded to know if procedure was followed for the release of Lawrence, who was sentenced to 22 months in prison early last year.

“I cannot for the life of me see the justification for any such reduction and therefore we condemn it completely,” Eustace said. “I am calling on Prime Minister Gonsalves to do the right thing, and come to the public of this country and explain the circumstances which led to this pardon.”

Lawrence was convicted on two counts of drug possession in 2005. In February 2006, his appeal was denied and he was ordered to serve the 22-month sentence that was imposed.

He received a pardon from the Governor General late last year.

“If anybody thinks that a group of six persons will release somebody for no good reason well then we don’t have any society worthy of any merit or trust,” said Dr. Gonsalves.

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