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Charges against Exeter to criminalize, avoid possible re-contest – Bruce

Charges against Exeter to criminalize, avoid possible re-contest – Bruce

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Lawyer Israel Bruce strongly believes that the charges brought against his client, politician Benjamin Exeter form part of a witch-hunt, orchestrated to criminalize him and prevent him from running again for politics.

Bruce expressed this view last Wednesday, minutes after he appeared in court on behalf of Exeter, who had been arrested the previous day, during a protest by the New Democratic Party{{more}} against the results of the 2015 general election, as the opening ceremony of the 10th Parliament was taking place.

“There’s no secret that Benjamin Exeter has been involved in a matter that emanated from the elections of 2015,” Bruce said.

“Whether or not there is a clandestine approach by the authority to seek to have a criminal record laid on Ben Exeter so that any prayerful consideration, by whoever is praying about whether elections would be recoiled in 2017, if that is the objective, all we could say is that that objective will be defeated and will be defeated in the court of law.

“I think it is a witch hunt to criminalize Ben and to avoid him the possibility to re-contest Central Leeward. That is how we feel about that,” the attorney said.

“But in the due course of time that will be addressed.”

When Exeter appeared before magistrate Carla James at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last Wednesday, he was charged that on December 29 at Kingstown, he did assault corporal 632 Cuthbert Morris, acting in the due execution of his duty, contrary to section 196 of the criminal code. He was also charged that on that same date, he did resist the arrest of Morris, acting in the due execution of his duty, contrary to Section 196 of the Criminal Code. Additionally, on that same date, Exeter was charged with assaulting Granville De Freitas of Chester Cottage, causing actual bodily harm, contrary to section 193 of the Criminal Code.

Shabazaah GunMunro George, who was present at the protest, was also arrested last Tuesday and slapped with two charges when he appeared before at the Magistrate’s Court the following day.

He was charged that on December 29, he did obstruct Cuthbert 632 Morris, acting in due execution of his duty, contrary to section 196 of the criminal code. He was further charged that on the said date, without lawful excuse in a public place, to wit the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), had in his possession an offensive weapon, to wit a zapper, contrary to section 76(1) of the criminal code.

“We will see what comes out of that,” said Bruce, in relation to the charges laid on George.

“But what we can say is that if it is that in this modern society that a young man cannot take out his camera and snap a picture, but any other person can take pictures and that becomes an offence to the police officers of this state, then it says that we have an understanding why the Police and Criminal Evidence Act was repealed, because police are not to be operating as if they have some sort of authority that is unrestricted. Those are the issues that the court will have to deal with.”

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) relates to “the powers of the police to stop and search persons; to enter and search premises and to seize property therein; to make arrests, to detain persons without charge and after charge and to question persons who have been detained.”

It defines the limits of the powers of police officers in the above areas and provides a series of checks and controls on the exercise of those powers. PACE also involves other persons such as the Director of Public Prosecutions, the judges and lawyers who must interpret PACE and as such, it affects not only investigation, but trials as well. PACE was abolished from the laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines in February 2007.

Bruce further revealed the ‘zapper’ as mentioned in the charge to be a taser, adding, “I will say nothing further to that because it is a technical circle upon which the case will turn.”

Settlement disclosure on the matter has been set for January 11, 2016. Both Exeter and George will continue on station bail and will return to court on January 25, 2016 for trial.(AS)

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