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One year and still no action

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Tue June 4, 2013

Editor:

“Delay of justice is injustice,” wrote Walter Savage Landor

A year has passed and still no inquest into the murder of my father Othniel Whyte. Does it really take more than 365 days to start a coroner’s inquest or is the office of the DPP that incompetent, that it cannot handle that simple task? I have written about this issue on numerous occasions, but apparently my appeals have fallen on deaf ears, because there has been no indication as to when that inquest will start. I, however, unlike my father, am still here and will not be discouraged that easily. I will continue to write and speak about this issue until it is resolved.{{more}}

In my last article, I stopped short of stating why I thought the Venezuelans were released; however, I would like to shed some light on that. In September of last year, there were accusations and assumption made by persons in and out of the media, of a possible deal made between the government of SVG and Venezuela, which led to the release of the four remaining Venezuelans. These accusations were made after it was discovered that a Venezuelan politician and relative of most of the men onboard the vessel, had made comments in the Venezuelan press of a possible deal between the two governments which secured the release of the remaining four.

Was there a deal or not? The answer to that we may never know. What we know, however, is that:

  •  The men were released two and a half weeks before elections in Venezuela.

  •  The comments about the possible deal were made by a member of the ruling party and not a member of the opposition, as was previously stated by the prime minister.

  •  That same politician went on to win the elections in Nueva Esparta and became Governor of that state.
  • The captain of the vessel and a few others were traveling on false passports and were never charged for that.
  •  St Vincent and the Grenadines is still awaiting the commencement of the coroner’s inquest.
  •  The Venezuelan embassy has not insisted that an inquest be conducted into the death of their nationals.

So, it’s business as usual and the Venezuelans continue to escape justice here in SVG, while Vincentians continue to pay the price. It was not the first time that a similar case against Venezuelans was discontinued, based on the lack of evidence. On September 23, the Coastguard, the Special Services Unit, and the Drug Squad allegedly ordered a boat to stop, but the crew reportedly opened fire, whereupon authorities returned fire, killing two Venezuelan nationals, Matias Dominquez and Alexis Munoz. The police opened an investigation, and the Venezuelan relatives filed lawsuits for wrongful death against the authorities. Authorities later released four other Venezuelan nationals arrested in the incident, for lack of evidence.

The DPP has become famous, not only in SVG, but in the rest of the world, for discontinuing cases, and was recently given more power on which to do so, thus making him judge and jury. Maybe his conviction rate should be checked and a decision should be made to continue or discontinue his service.

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

My father didn’t die, he just went home, but as his four sons continue to live on this earth, he shall live through us. Everyone, one day, will answer to God for every decision that he or she makes, so I am not worried, because God bears with the wicked, but not forever. The fight for justice is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on ourself, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.

On Monday, June 3, a candlelight vigil and memorial service was held in Union Island in memory of my father.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Abdon Whyte

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