KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Opposition leader Arnhim Eustace in 2008 told U.S. officials in Barbados that six cops were prepared to testify that Sen. Julian Francis and Deputy Commissioner of Police Lenroy Brewster met a drug lord on a beach, a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said.
The cable said that Eustace called the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown on a mobile phone, expressed concerns that government officials had tapped his landline, and asked for American help in protecting the cops.
The call on Dec. 20, 2007 came ahead of the Jan. 9, 2008 date when E.G. Lynch, host of the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) New Times programme on Nice Radio, was to appear in court to answer charges related to allegedly saying that Brewster and Francis were in the company of “Que Pasa” at Wallilabou beach on the night of August 4, 2007.
As a result of the statement, the firebrand talk show host was charged that on August 23, 2007, he made false statements likely to cause fear or public alarm.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, last month discontinued the charge against Lynch.
According to the leaked cable, Eustace told the U.S. Embassy that cops from the Special Services Unit or Rapid Response Unit were willing to testify in the case but were concerned that if they testify against government officials, they would have lost their jobs and possibly be in physical danger.
“Eustace asked [embassy officials] for possible [U.S. government] assistance in the form of visas or asylum for the officers if the need arose,” the cable said.
“Eustace said that he is ‘coming to the conclusion that things are really getting out of control’ with drugs in SVG,” the document further added.
The former prime minister reportedly noted that SVG had at the time recorded 36 murders for the year, eight more than the previous record, set in 2005.
“… [H]e claimed that ‘we are on our way to becoming a failed state’ in the sense that drug interests have considerable influence within the current government,” the cable said of the Member of Parliament for East Kingstown.
In commenting on Eustace’s call, the U.S. officials in Bridgetown told Washington that the Vincentian politician’s “claim that six current SSU officers are willing to testify marks the most concrete evidence he’s been able to produce to date, though his concerns for the officers’ safety are likely exaggerated.
“In a political atmosphere where the Gonsalves administration has achieved widespread popularity, the NDP appears left with no other option than to attack the ruling government as corrupt and to somehow tie the Gonsalves administration to the increasing drug-related violence on the island.
“…. If Eustace is somehow able to convince police officers to testify against Minister Francis and Deputy Commissioner Brewster, it would have a huge impact on the credibility of the Gonsalves’ administration and considerably weaken the government,” the commentary added.