ST. VINCENT (Jan. 12):-Three candidates for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in last month’s general elections have bought a total of ten private criminal complaints against Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and three of his ministers in relation to “different character assassinations” during the election campaign.
NDP senator, Vynnette Frederick, has brought two complaints against Gonsalves and another two against Minister of Health, Cecil McKie, who defeated her in West St. George.
Nigel Stevenson, who won in South Leeward, has brought two complaints against former area representative Sen. Dr. Douglas Slater, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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NDP chairman Dr. Linton Lewis has brought four complaints against Minister of Housing Clayton Burgin, who defeated him in East St. George.
Chief Magistrate Sonia Young have summoned Burgin, Slater, and McKie to appear in court on Friday, Jan. 14, to answer the charges.
Lawyer for the NDP, Kay Bacchus-Browne, told I Witness-News that the party’s legal team, which includes Nicole Sylvester and Trinidadian Keith Scotland, “absolutely [does] not agree with [the Chief Magistrate] not issuing the [summons] against Dr. Gonsalves.
“There can be no reason, no distinction between the one she issued and did not issue and therefore we are going to take appropriate action in court to challenge her refusal,” Bacchus-Browne told I Witness-News on Wednesday.
“These are private criminal complaints under the Representation of the People’s Act, which, if proven, will disqualify the persons we complained for five years from even voting or from being a Member of Parliament,” she said.
She noted that if found guilty, the persons can be fined EC$750 (US$278) and sentenced to one year in jail.
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“They are also very serious complaints and the evidence we have is quite firm,” she said.
“We are confident that on the law, we have all the evidence necessary to win,” Bacchus-Browne further said.
However, Bacchus-Browne noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, “has the power to take over and discontinue private criminal actions and we have precedence where he did this before with the complaints we brought against Dr. Gonsalves and also some other complaints too”.
Bacchus-Browne, however, said that if the DPP takes such a step her team is prepared to challenge him all the way to the Privy Council, the nation’s highest court.
Asked if she was anticipating that the DPP would discontinue the charges, Bacchus-Browne said, “Let us say that it is very probable. However, I will wait and see what happens.”