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PM: I don’t know how they drag me into matters concerning the DPP

PM: I don’t know how they drag me into matters concerning the DPP


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said yesterday his government did not enter into any arrangement with Caracas, leading to the release of the Venezuelans charged in connection with the Union Island saga.{{more}}

Gonsalves said the information originated with an opposition politician in Venezuela who, he said, wanted to take advantage of the emotions of the people whose family members had been killed in the incident.

“What do I have to do with that? Absolutely nothing,” the prime minister said.

“I don’t know how they drag me into matters concerning the DPP, who made a judgment into dropping the charges against the Venezuelans,” he said in relation to local criticism of the decision.

His comments came as he shed new light on the incident on June 3 that left three Venezuelans dead and another paralysed.

He told a press briefing yesterday that two men had boarded the Venezuelan vessel “El Amigo Fay” in Union Island before a reported shoot-out between a local police officers and persons aboard the vessel.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, further said that that one of the three foreigners who died in the shoot-out and the other left paralysed were not members of the crew of the vessel.

“Apparently the names were not on the manifest,” he said.

He, however, did not say if law enforcement officials knew how long the men had been in Union Island or the reason for their being in the country.

Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams further told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that the men went on board the vessel, requesting a ride back to Venezuela.

He said evidence suggest that one of the men who came on board opened fire on the Rapid Response Unit officer Rohan/Garth Deshong and Customs Guard Othneil Whyte.

DeShong is said to have returned fire.

Whyte’s body was found at sea hours after the incident and a post mortem concluded that he had drowned.

Williams said the captain of “El Amigo Fay” was not able to identify the body of one of the dead.

“He did not know who the third one was,” Williams said.

The first time a name was given, the DPP said, was after the injured man identified the dead man.

PM supports DPP

Meanwhile, the prime minister said he supported the decision by the DPP to discontinue the case against the men on September 19.

He said the prosecutor’s code is well articulated and that once it was applied that he could not come up with a charge for the Venezuelans.

“I am only applying common sense and understanding the police shot three dead and paralyzed one,” said Gonsalves, a lawyer.

“Whether they are guilty or not guilty, I do not know, but the common sense thing will tell me that they themselves and the lawyers that if they had anything to do with any matter untoward they will put the blame on the dead,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said that the DPP had all the evidence in front of him and that he had confidence in the DPP.

“I am fortified by the DPP that he did the correct thing, because he will know that he will need to have sufficient evidence to build a case and then get a conviction,” the prime minister said.

Gonsalves, however, said that he was very sorry about Whyte’s death and that he had communicated with the family about compensation.

Noting his legal affairs and national security port folios, Gonsalves said his concern was for a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of the people, as it is stated under the law.