KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – An opposition legislator says it has to be more than a passing concern to Vincentians as to what is going on in the nation’s waters as a local cop reportedly had to defend himself against gunfire from Venezuelans on Sunday.
Vincentians cannot be “indifferent to the speculation that is taking place in Union Island surrounding the deaths of the three Venezuelans”, Central Kingstown representative, St. Clair Leacock, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Customs guard Othneil Whyte drowned on Sunday after he and a cop from the Rapid Response Unit went to investigate a fishing vessel in the waters off Union Island.
Whyte was found facedown at sea hours after an allege shootout between Venezuelans occupants of a fishing vessel from that South American nation and the local cop.
The occupants of the vessel opened fire on the local lawmen, police say. The Vincentian cop killed three of the seven Venezuelan occupants of the vessel and wounded another while Whyte, who was found to be missing after they returned to shore, was found floating at sea about 14 hours later.
A post mortem showed that Whyte drowned, police said Wednesday — one day after they said he had fallen to hostile fire.
“I note with interest that we don’t see the same opprobrium; we don’t hear the same amount of press conferences as would have happened when we had dispute in America recently,” Leacock said.
He apparently was referring to the government’s response to the arrest in March in New York of Kingstown’s envoy to the United Nations, Camillo Gonsalves, son of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
“But there must be no distinction in this regard and nobody should be shaded and or protected and we hope that at the earliest opportunity, the inquest, the inquiries must be given to us,” Leacock said at the New Democratic Party press conference.
“I would certainly like to see in this regard though, that our Commissioner of Police [Keith Miller] leads these investigations and these exercises, rather than on all occasions, the honourable Prime Minister [Dr. Ralph Gonsalves] seems to push everyone aside and to take control of every aspect and every activity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Leacock said.
“It doesn’t bode well for our public sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and those with whom responsibilities have been entrusted,” he further stated.