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Dr Lewis stands by Bar Association statement

Dr Lewis stands by Bar Association statement

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President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association Dr Linton Lewis says he is standing by the statement made by the organization, concerning the re-arrest of lawyer Vynnette Frederick.{{more}}

Lewis was on Wednesday speaking to the media at his conference room in Kingstown, where he, along with immediate past president Kay Bacchus Browne and vice president Jomo Thomas spelt out the reasons why they believe Frederick’s arrest was not done within the confines of the law.

The Bar Association president said that contrary to reports by SEARCHLIGHT in its midweek edition this week (page 24), he was in no way changing his position from the Association’s statement published on July 19, 2013, (page 5).

“On Tuesday the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper reported that the president backed away from the statement that was made by the Bar, that the arrest was unlawful.

“I suppose that a number of persons looked at the “Unrendered” programme, and those who looked at it ought not to have concluded that I in any way backed away from the statement that the arrest was unlawful.

“What I did say and I will repeat now, that in truth and in fact, the charges that were laid against Vynnette Frederick initially, were tried summarily and there were three further charges… and therefore those charges can be tried either in the Magistrates Court or the High Court and we refer to them as offences that can be tried either way.

“In truth and in fact, that is not backing away. It is the Bar’s view, that because… none of the offenses carry a penalty in excess of seven years, where it is mandated that that offense is tried indictably, which therefore means that you can arrest that person without a warrant, then you have a situation where it may well be unlawful.”

During the IKTV programme aired over the weekend, which also featured Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams, Lewis was quoted as saying “In so far as the unlawfulness of the arrest is concerned… there are some grey areas and the matter is to be determined in the court, whether or not it is unlawful, and I don’t want to go through in any major way at this time any argument about whether or not that was unlawful….”

At the press conference, Lewis pointed out that the original six charges that were re-issued against Frederick on July 12 were not indictable charges, since they had a penalty of up to two years, and would have required a warrant or summons.

He stated that the three new charges against the New Democratic Party (NDP) senator had sentences of up to, and not in excess of seven years, and could have been tried in the Magistrate’s Court (summarily) or in the High Court (indictably).

“Colin Williams… he did say that that offense is indictable. Now, that is wrong, mainly because it is an offense that can be tried either in the Magistrate’s Court, or in the High Court. It is an offense that is triable either way,” Lewis, also an NDP senator, pointed out.

“Under section 101, the penalty is not in excess of seven years, the penalty is up to seven years; which means that that matter can be tried either in the Magistrate’s Court or in the High Court.

“Usually, an arrest comes before a charge, but not all the time, and it therefore means when you arrest someone you are saying that you reasonably suspect that that person is committing an indictable offense; if not, you are required to get a search warrant or request of the magistrate to issue… a summons.

“Now you have a situation, when you went to arrest Vynnette Frederick, did you have in mind that she was going to be charged indictably? Did you have in mind an indictable offense? If you did, then understandably you didn’t need to have a warrant for her arrest. If on the other hand, you intended at the time of the arrest to charge her summarily, then you are required to have a warrant for her arrest.”

Contributing to the discussion, Bacchus-Browne outlined three points that aimed to prove the Association’s view, that the arrest was illegal.

“The actual fact is that when they came purportedly to arrest senator Frederick, the police said it was for the same offenses that they had taken her up for before; they lumped them together and called them perjury, a misnomer in a way, because she had never been charged for perjury; which means that when they came to arrest her… it was these offenses which were clearly summary offences, so the arrest was unlawful,” Bacchus-Browne said.

“Secondly, so far they have decided to take them before the magistrate as summary charges anyway. So, in their contemplation they were summary.

“And thirdly, when you arrest someone on an offense which is triable both ways, the accused has the right to select whether she or he wants to go before the magistrate or before the judge…if an offense is triable, it is not necessarily the DPP or the police who makes the decision and for that reason I say… we should hold the police to the highest standard. We should not permit them to make the decision whether or not they are going to arrest with a warrant.”

The former Association head said that she failed to understand why three extra charges were added to the original six at this time.

Bacchus-Browne called the arrest an abuse of process, which was agreed with by Thomas, who said the move to go to the Oleander Restaurant to arrest Frederick was an act to disgrace her.

“There is absolutely no reason at all for the police of St Vincent and the Grenadines or the authorities to treat Miss Frederick in the way in which she was treated.

There is really no reason to go to the restaurant, take her out of the restaurant, to detain her… only to release her in about two hours.

“It is clear to me that far from the prosecution of Miss Frederick, that that act on that day was intended to embarrass her and to humiliate her.”(JJ)

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