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Nicole Sylvester: I have not witheld evidence

Nicole Sylvester: I have not witheld evidence

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Prominent lawyer Nicole Sylvester has described as “absurd” a cable said to originate from the United States Embassy in Barbados which claims that she told Embassy officials {{more}}that she witheld important evidence in the rape case brought against Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in 2008 by a female police officer.

Sylvester, who is the president of the SVG Human Rights Association, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, denied that she did so – describing the allegations as “misleading and inaccurate”.

“I have never witheld evidence, but I would not go saying to somebody that I have witheld evidence,” she pointed out.

“Am I mad? Why would I do that?”

The cable states: “In the original telephone conversation with PolOff on January 31st (reftel), Sylvester mentioned that the police had demanded her client turn in the uniform she was wearing at the time of the alleged incident, but that she has intentionally handed over the wrong uniform to police. Sylvester told PolOff on February 5th that she still has the uniform in question, which presumably contains forensic evidence that would support her client’s claims of rape… she and her client do not believe that the evidence can be trusted with SVG authorities and asked for USG assistance in transporting the evidence out of the country and in having it tested.”

The cable further notes that witholding the evidence to have it tested outside of the country would break the chain of custody, and independent laboratories would probably not be willing to test the samples.

Sylvester said that she was “amazed” that the cable contained this information, and described it as being “totally embellished with falsehood”.

“I am a lawyer. I would know what chain of custody means. As far as we are aware, she [client] did take in her uniform when we represented her,” said Sylvester.

“I am convinced this is designed to create mischief… This is absurd!”

Sylvester also asserted that she does not believe the cables originate from the US Embassy in Barbados.

“If they are having a conversation with me, don’t you think that they would note, with accuracy, what I said?” she questioned.

“I don’t understand where it is coming from.”

About WikiLeaks, Sylvester said: “When you follow it, you may have heard various individuals say it is not a true reflection of what was said. I do not see it as a reliable source, and it is regrettable that it is being given this attention.”

She did, however, admit that she does not think the alleged inaccuracies contained in the leaked cables are politically motivated.

“If I was the prime minister, I would find it very unfortunate that this is resurfacing through Wikileaks,” said Sylvester.

“It is bringing up an aspect of a certain period in his life [that] he might not wish to be re-highlighted!”

The cable also deemed the DPP Colin Williams’s decision to discontinue the rape case against the Prime Minister as “fair and reasonable”, but questioned the Prime Minister’s decision to name his accuser when the case had been filed privately.

The cable states: “The Prime Minister’s decision to release the name of the alleged victim/accuser raises additional concerns, and shows the general lack of sensitivity surrounding victim’s rights in rape cases in the region.”

The cable was created on February 6, 2008, by former US ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mary Ourisman; and released on August 30, 2011.

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