President of the Bar Association, Dr. Linton Lewis, has described as “deplorable” the arrest of his parliamentary and party colleague, opposition senator Vynnette Frederick, last Thursday.
Lewis, who like Frederick is a senator for the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), said on radio on Wednesday that the Government should express displeasure with the manner in which the arrest was conducted.
Some 10 officers from the Special Services Unit and the Criminal Investigation Department arrested the senator at a restaurant in Kingstown where she, her lawyers and other colleagues had gone for lunch after a magistrate dismissed six charges against her.
The senator was arrested and nine charges relating to false declarations, swearing falsely, and fabricating evidence were brought against her.
The charges stem from a private complaint she made against Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for statements he made during his campaign leading up to the 2010 general elections.
“I have no doubt in my mind that somewhere along the line, someone must be thinking about the grave mistake [that] was made and one would hope that it would be remedied by some pronouncement,” Lewis said of the arrest.
“Someone in the government could make some pronouncement that they are not happy with the way in which that arrest was carried out.
“And I am saying, as President of the Bar, it is something that is deplorable and to treat a lawyer in that way, and for those reasons, and under those circumstances, is something that we never expected to happen in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he further stated.
Two lawyers have told I-Witness News separately that the arrest, without a warrant, appeared to be illegal.
Some commentators have suggested that the police could have summoned Frederick to come to court, noting that she was granted bail at the police station.
Lewis said that he had not seen the charges brought against Frederick but he understands that they were similar to the six that the magistrate dismissed on Thursday.
“There’re still some grey areas, because, under Section 8 of our Constitution, which refers to someone getting a fair trial, a person ought not to be tried twice for the same offence,” Lewis said.
“Whether or not what happened will be dealt with as an acquittal is something different, but for the life of me, at this stage, I am very concerned, as President of the Bar, about the manner in which the entire arrest was conducted,” he further stated.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the police officers and perhaps the person who issued the directive for the police officers to go and make the arrest in the way they did, must feel a sense of discomfort at this time.
“Because, I think in their own conscience, they will know that what they did was totally uncalled for and totally unnecessary and, therefore, they will have to rethink again, in the eyes of the public, how they go about dealing with issues of that nature in the future.”
Lewis said that things could have been done differently.
“… the way in which they were done gave the impression that there was an attempt to humiliate as opposed to an attempt to carry out the course of justice,” he said.
“And I want to call on the authorities to desist from treating persons in that way,” he further said.
I-Witness News understands that the Bar Association has issued a formal statement on the arrest.