ST. VINCENT: – The private criminal complaints against Luke Browne, the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East Kingstown, were dismissed by Chief Magistrate Sonya Young on Friday, Dec. 10.
Patricia Chance, an NDP employee and constituent of East Kingstown, brought four counts of voter registration fraud against Browne, charging that he facilitated the illegal resident of non-constituents in the district.
Browne was in high praise of his legal teams and ULP supporters in East Kingstown, saying, “I think that this has been a victory for that constituency today.
“Therefore, the next victory we will experience … we expect to come on Monday (Election Day),” he said on Star FM, the party’s radio station, shortly after the court ruling.
“So they shall make their own tongue to fall on themselves: all that see them shall flee away,” Browne said in quoting Psalms 66:8, adding, “That is precisely what has happened.
“People recognise that the propaganda that is coming from the opposition is just geared at interfering with the general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and they have contributed to a development, to a building of the momentum as we approach the elections on the 13th,” Browne said.
He said he was confident in the ability of his legal team “to point out the important items to be considered,” adding, “I thank them very much.”
He said that agents of the NDP have tried to intimidate young persons registeriung to vote.
“What they are doing to me now, they have done to many citizens in a different way over the past couple weeks and it’s important for them to recognise that we are not going to be turned off from this process. We understand the importance of participating and that is what we will do,” Browne said.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Marks, one of Browne’s lawyers, said, “This is a great day for justice in St Vincent.”.
“We were always maintaining that this was indeed an abuse of the system and the magistrate has agreed with us and has thrown these cases out. So, they have been totally and completely embarrassed,” he said, also on Star FM.
He said the magistrate had “bent over backward to accommodate” the complainants “with their frivolous complaint.
“The complaint was amended three times in the face of the court. It’s like these people were scrambling, they didn’t know what they were doing. They were making this thing up as they go along, because, what they were expecting, was that the matter would not come to court until after elections, so we go into elections with this cloud hanging over this wonderful young man’s head … just in the name of politics,” said Marks, a former ULP senator.
“We as lawyers should know better and I am happy that the chief magistrate treated the complaint as they should have been treated and they are now completely withdrawn. They are no longer alive, they are completely dead and the magistrate has said that they were dead at the beginning; that they had no case against Luke Browne. I am happy that that has been said,” he added.
The ruling today is part of and an ongoing saga between the ULP and the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) that began on Nov. 25, when NDP public relations officer and candidate for West St George, Vynnette Frederick, accused Browne of illegal voter registration when they both were guests on a youth programme on Hitz FM.
Browne’s lawyers have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), asking him to prosecute Frederick under an election law, which if she is convicted, can see her jailed and barred from contesting elections for five years.
Browne was granted EC$5,000 (US$1,852) bail when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Sonya Young at the Serious Offences court yesterday, but the judicial officer dismissed all complaints against the aspiring parliamentarian, who is contesting his first elections.