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No conflict of interest in Stephens release says PM

No conflict of interest in Stephens release says PM

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There was no conflict of interest in the release of convicted murderer Cordelia Stephens by the Prerogative of Mercy Committee last week.{{more}}

So says Chairman of the committee, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who was also the lawyer who represented Stephens during her 1989 trial and conviction for the murder of her husband Glendon Stephens.

Stephens, along with Anthony Robinson, were initially sentenced to death for their involvement in the crime; but that sentence was commuted to life in prison.

They had served 23 years when they were set free by the committee on April 5 this year.

Dr. Gonsalves, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday April 17, said that the decision to release the couple was based on the requests of members of the community and detailed background information, but not because he represented her.

“When a barrister represents someone, and that case is finished, his obligation to that person is at an end.”

“The only conflict of interest is if I have something to gain from it. I have nothing to gain from it in any personal manner…. I did a job of work; the court made their decision….”

“I should tell you, I have been receiving petitions for her release from a number of people within religious groups, and people from the community on an ongoing basis.”

The Prime Minister indicated that Stephens’ case had come to the Committee on occasions before, and he was chairman during those occasions when the petitions were not upheld.

“The Committee has the benefit of detailed social reports from professionals, and on the committee too are persons from the Marriaqua community, including Pastor (Adolphus) Isaacs, and the Deputy Prime Minister (Girlyn Miguel), and they have knowledge as to matters within the community in relation to these matters.”

He questioned whether, as long as he is Prime Minister, Stephens should not have been released because he had previously represented her.

“That can’t be a viable suggestion,” Dr. Gonsalves noted.

Dr. Gonsalves also noted that although the Prerogative of Mercy Committee acts in a sparing manner, other releases can be expected sometime in the future.

Another inmate, Grantley Bramble, was also released with conditions, on the same day as Robinson and Stephens. He had served fourteen and a half years in prison.(JJ)

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