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334 days – Still no action


Fri May 03, 2013

Editor: May 3 marks 11 months since my father was murdered while attempting to investigate the presence of a Venezuelan vessel in the Clifton harbour. That is equal to 334 days of inaction by the office of the DPP to conduct a coroner’s inquest into the death of my father. It, however, took the DPP just over three and a half months to quietly release the Venezuelans after concluding that they committed no wrong.{{more}}

In one month, a year would have passed since my father was murdered and neither the government nor the DPP seems to be concerned about finding out how a civil servant of this country died while fulfilling his duty. Is it that they already know? Is not having a coroner’s inquest part of the so called deal allegedly made between the government of Venezuela and the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Is it that the DPP is awaiting a lack of public interest in the matter before he proceeds? Is there going to be an inquest at all? Vincentians may never know the answers to these questions.

My investigations

I, however, in the pursuit of justice and the truth, have done my own investigation, and the DPP, or whosoever, can at any time refute my claims as false or inaccurate and present to the public their version of the truth. The day after my father died, we received a visit from a number of high-ranking government officials, who at the time, we thought, were there to comfort us. The team consisted of the Prime Minister, Commissioner of Police, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Director of Grenadines Affairs and the Comptroller of Customs. How things can change in an instant! Where are all these men who were eager to find the person or persons responsible for my father’s death? My father always told me that a promise is a comfort to a fool and oh, how you comforted us.

I stated earlier that my father was murdered because that is what exactly happened! He did not drown and before investigators can make a determination whether or not he drowned they should have at least answered these questions. For instance, did the person drown, or did perpetrators kill the individual and dispose of the corpse in the water? Was the body found floating or submerged? Was the victim conscious upon submersion? Could the person swim well? Did the victim consume any alcohol or drugs? What was the individual doing at the time? Did anyone witness the incident? If any injuries exist on the body, were they caused before death, at the same time, or afterwards?

Lifeless body floating

My father’s body was found lifeless floating in the Clifton harbour; he was an expert swimmer; he was not a drinker of alcohol or drugs. At the time, he was investigating a suspicious vessel in the harbour and, according to the police officer, the crew was attacking them after they boarded the ship (one of the reasons given for shooting four of them). Most importantly, two eyewitnesses gave reports to the police that they saw someone hoisted and thrown into the water. One would believe that the DPP would have been happy that he had not one, but two witnesses, but he would have none of that, and instead considered their statements to be false.

So, what really happened and why hasn’t anyone been held responsible for my father’s death? What I am about to write is purely my beliefs based on what I know, what I have been told and what I have seen. My father was either knocked unconscious or killed on the boat or thrown into the water, that’s why the two witnesses in a nearby boat saw someone being thrown into the water and which would also explain why his body did not sink to the bottom of the sea (if a body enters the water dead or unconscious it automatically flips over face-down, causing air to be trapped in the lungs, once air is in the lungs; the body usually would not sink to the bottom). So, why did the autopsy report state that he died from drowning? Interesting question! I had travelled to St Vincent to witness the autopsy; however, was denied entry into the room where the autopsy was being performed. You do the math! A few days later it was announced that preliminary testing revealed that the substance recovered on the ocean floor was soap powder and not cocaine as previously stated. It was to be sent for further testing; however, we are still waiting for the result of that test.

So, why were the men released? I would deal with that in my next article, but for now I will write about this feeling of betrayal that my family and I live with every day, and the dangerous precedent being set with the handling of this situation. My father was a civil servant just like thousands of other Vincentians. He lost his life while attempting to fulfil an oath to serve and protect this country. He gave his life protecting this country, but some, entrusted with the task of protecting people like my father, couldn’t care less about convicting the persons responsible for his death. The Prime Minister’s acceptance of the work-to-rule industrial action proposed by the SVGTU a few months ago only strengthened my initial conclusion that the government doesn’t really care about us. For those that are unfamiliar with the work-to-rule type of industrial action: it is an industrial action in which employees do no more than the minimum required by the rules of their contract, and follow safety or other regulations precisely.

Refusing to work

What is going to happen when a fireman is asked to go into a burning building to rescue someone, a doctor refusing to work overtime, a teacher refusing to intercede in a fight, police not answering emergency calls or customs officers turning a blind eye to the importation of drugs or guns and their failure to act results in the loss of lives? They can always refer to the Othniel Whyte’s case when asked why they did nothing; they can say look how he and his family were treated. Their action can be justified, but let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.

Mr John, you are the comptroller of customs and one of your men was murdered and you have been very silent on the issue. Just remember that all the other officers and guards are paying very close attention to what is going on and that will in some way influence their decision when it comes to carrying out their duties. I also haven’t heard much from the PSU and will love to see the Human Rights Association more involved. The people of North Leeward and Union Island are still waiting for some sort of action to be taken.

Candlelight vigil

The Prime Minister, in a report “THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME IN ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES,” stated that the ULP government, since March 2001, has, among other things: made full use of the Coroners’ Act which governs the Coroners’ Court in respect of sudden and unnatural deaths, particularly those in which the police have been involved. 344 days and counting!! The DPP has already stated that nobody can’t tell him (the DPP) how to do his job, which seems to be true, because even the Prime Minister earlier this year was wondering why it was taking so long. Well, PM, I guess that he doesn’t listen to you also and he will continue to do what he wants to do, when he wants to do it.

My family has lost a lot this past year; first my father, then exactly six months later, his nephew Stuart “Rudy” Louie and we still don’t know who was responsible for their deaths, or maybe they know, but are unwilling to do anything about it. Elie Wiesel wrote “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

On June 3, join our family as we remember my father for the man he was. We will be having a candlelight vigil at the Hugh Mulzac Square in Clifton, Union Island from 8 p.m. If persons are paid to do a job, they must do that job or leave. We cannot continue to live in a society where you have Rich Man and Poor Man justice.

Abdon Whyte