Lawyer and potential North Leeward candidate for the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) Carlos James says he is calling on the MP for the area Roland Patel Matthews to stop politicising the death of Chateaubelair resident Sylma “Codo” Thomas.
Thomas died on Feb. 28, one day after she fell ill as police conducted a search at her home.
The incident has sparked numerous comments from residents and has been a subject of discussion on talk radio.
Commissioner of Police Michael Charles says retired head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Willisford Caesar, has been appointed to head an investigation into the case.
James said in an interview this week that his call is in response to Matthews’ commenting that James failed to sign a petition calling for an inquiry into Thomas’ death.
James said that he was invited to an event in North Leeward to speak at a youth group’s programme, “Culture Fest”, held in Chateaubelair last Saturday to celebrate National Heroes and Heritage Month.
He said that at the end of the programme he was approached by a young lady who was “seated next to Patel Matthews, in the presence of Patel Matthews.
“She approached me asking whether or not I had signed a petition calling for an inquiry into the death of Miss Thomas. I asked the young lady whether she was aware that there was a commission set up to investigate the matter. She said ‘no.’ I further asked the young lady if she was aware (that) the person heading the inquiry was independent of the Police Force. She said ‘no.’ I then asked the young lady if the purpose of the petition is to call for an inquiry and if there has already been a Commission set up … to investigate the matter then if there is the necessary need for the petition. She rightfully agreed with me and said she was unaware of a commission (having) been … established.
“So, I told her ‘You have to find out about these things first before going around with questions/signatures for something that has already been established,'” James stated.
The ULP hopeful said he told the woman she was setting up a petition to ask for an inquiry when a commission has been set up and I being headed by someone who is independent of the Police Force.
James further said he told the woman he believes Caesar would investigate the matter thoroughly.
“So, it clearly means that the police has addressed the issue as in that there is in fact an investigation. And this is someone going around asking for a petition unknowing that there’s actually an investigation on-going,” James said.
James said that as far as he was concerned the matter was done and settled there and then but then he got word the following day that Matthews had posted on Facebook that he had refused to sign the petition.
James said that he was one of the first persons who went to Thomas’ family members to extend his condolences even before Matthews visited them.
He said he urged the family to go to the Police Public Relations and Complaints Department to make a report and he then telephoned “a senior commanding officer” of the Police Force who agreed that they should do so.
James said he is a trained lawyer and sensible enough to know the matter was under investigation. He said the family members have retained the services of a lawyer and therefore it was not for him “to comment on the incident which led to the death of Miss Thomas until a full investigation has been carried out.”
He said that for the very reason that the family may want to take “further action” on the matter he “cannot by way of sub judice comment on the matter.”
He said he was urging the family members to be patient and allow the matter to be investigated, adding that he was “saddened” by Thomas’ passing and he has “reached out” to her family.
“But for Patel Matthews to go on social media and make these assertions, fully well knowing an investigation has been launched and there is a inquiry into the matter is irresponsible and it shows that he has no decency and he does not possess the qualities and character to hold … the position as a Member of Parliament.
“I am quite concerned that he wants to push a political agenda relating to the passing of Miss Thomas. To even mention the word ‘Codo’ or Miss Thomas and politics in the same sentence — and by politics, he is referring to my name Carlos James, ULP hopeful for North Leeward — to even mention that in the same sentence and especially coming from the mouth of an MP, is irresponsible and distasteful,” James said.
“We have to raise the bar here in St Vincent with the type of person who we put to represent us in Parliament. We want quality persons to represent us as MPs. And the utterances of Mr. Matthews are highly irresponsible and is a clear sign that he is not fit to be in the position that he is as an MP – Member of Parliament.
“So, I am quite frankly disappointed that he would want to mix politics or to use the passing of the lady to fuel his political agenda.”
James said he had “refused to comment on the matter” earlier but he was “forced to comment now” because of the fact that he had been “dragged in to this issue that is now being turned into a political one”.
Well! Well!! talk about cheap publicity. It is quite apparent that Mr James is way out of touch with the history of this issue which unfortunately culminate with the death of this young lady. SVG is a very small country where people know each other. The police have set up a One Man Inquiry to look into the death of Codo Thomas. To say that this is independent is left to be seen. This person is a recent head of the CID and we can guess when it comes down to Codo’s family and the Police we can safely guess where the inquirer’s allegiance will be. If the family is asking for an independent inquiry into Codo”s death and there is a petition out there while the investigation is ongoing where is the harm in adding your signature to the cause? What is so wrong with that Mr James? I left my home and travelled miles to attend Codo funeral. The funeral was the biggest I have ever attended for an “unknown”. The sentiments expressed at the funeral was one of bitterness towards the police. The people you hope to represent believe the police is responsible for her death. They believe that the investigator, Mr Caesar will always be a police and they do not believe assessment wil be fair. So to chastised the MP for asking you if it is true that you refused to sign the petition is uncalled for. As a lawyer how is that interfering with the investigation? How is joining the hundreds of people, you hope to represent, sign a petition asking for Independent Inquiry such a big issue with you? My conclusion is that you are making an issue where there is none. I hope Patel Matthews respond to you as the Vincentian newspaper editor suggest.
Let me get this straight, Carlos James, a qualified Attorney, and someone who has his ears on the ground, does not know what he is talking about….
……But Urlan Alexander knows it all !!!
Why do empty barrels always make the most noise ?
What independent inquiry are they talking about? A commission that is headed by someone connected to the police force whether currently or otherwise CANNOT be independent in the eyes of the people. Its all about perception Mr. James. And if the people of North Leeward perceive that the police is responsible for Codo’s death then the credibility of that one-man commission would be questioned. Are those the very people you aspire to represent in Parliament? You can’t be serious! Carlos James-you appear better off representing the people in law courts rather than in Parliament. Take my advice- stick with the law and leave the alleged rapist alone.
Let me state clearly that I do not know Mr. James neither have I ever met him. I’m extremely disappointed in his statement which indicated that he questioned the young lady who asked him to sign the petition as to her knowledge of an existing INDEPENDENT inquiry. As an attorney at law Mr. James ought to have known that an investigation headed by a retired Police officer can not be perceived to be an independent investigation when that individual is been asked to investigate a matter which brings into question the conduct of the police. I’m in no way casting aspersion or in no way suggesting that Mr. Caesar is not and or will not be objective in his investigation. However, Justice must not only be done but also seen to be done. The family and people of the community of North Leeward is well within reason to ask for and have a legitimate expectation of an independent investigation into the passing of Ms Thomas. The mere fact that Mr. Caesar is a retired Police officer will bring into question the perception that he may not be impartial as the head of the investigation which potentially can lead to the incrimination of his former colleague(s). I’m not certain how much persons will be serving on the panel of investigators but I would suggest that the Commissioner rescind the appointment of Mr. Caesar as the head of the investigation and ask him to serve as an ordinary member since in my opinion his experience as an investigator can be an asset to the investigation. However, the chairperson of the investigation should be someone who has no affiliation whatsoever with the Police Force or any of the officers who can potentially be implicated in ” Codo’s” death. So the intent and rational of Mr. James for not signing the petition are reasons for concern.
This is like the pot turning around and cooking the fire, instead of the fire cooking the pot. This Mr James guy is defending the police against the people who want answers. Mr James, you do realize that you are suppose to represent the people right? Well you are not doing that here, you are representing someone or something else but it is surely not the people.
Mr James and people like him and what is wrong with politics in SVG, they think they belong to some kind of social club, so even when they get in power they do not have what it takes to step on the toes of their friends, to do the job of the greater society. And we have other people like Jomo Thomas is making other stupid claims that the NDP didn’t build any homes for anyone in SVG. When I know many they built even in my part of SVG
These guys are all licking boots, and have thrown there conscience and dignity under the mattress. Mr James and Mr Thomas and all the other ilks of people who believe that you know the most and people should just shut up. You all are in for a good lesson this election, people are sick and tired of being lead around in circles.
I have to agree with the petition, because the police cannot investigate itself, especially this one man commission”. How are folks to know if this investigation is on the “up and up”? These investigations need at least 3 independent persons. A closer look at the incident in Union Island shows why folks don’t trust these investigation.
Mr. James you missed an excellent opportunity to show you are in sync with the community who want to represent.
Has the campaign started already? I didn’t know that Patel was at the same function reported by I-WITNESS NEWS in a previous article.
IT IS an occupational hazard of POLITICIANS generally to be inveterate and indefatigable LIARS.
BUT, remarkably, the POLITRICKANS have YET ANOTHER professional OCCUPATION – –
that of – – – UNDERTAKERS.
Yep, yuh NOTICE HOW THE POLITICIANS BEHAVE AT , and in relation to, FUNERALS ?
FRANKLY, they TRULY REMIND ME of some “COBBO” vulture birds I used to see in our yard in TRINIDAD.
Look, BOTH parties. Sorry, ALL the parties, WOULD SEEK TO MAKE MILEAGE OF SIMILAR NEWSWORTHY FUNERALS.
Dey would be just scrambling over each other like the idiomatic crabs in a barrel.
So, let the gentlemen be frank, sober and HONEST-FOR-ONCE.
BUT, the manner of this lady’s demise is a sterling rebuke and dishonour to which-ever political directorate or regime that is in power. AMENDS AND RESTITUTION, not barring merciful apologies – – – need to be rendered.
TO THE ENDEARED ONE, BROTHER, SISTER, OTHER FAMILY AND RELATIVES, FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS.
Regardless of all other considerations, political or otherwise, the Security and Political administrations MUST, OF NECESSITY, RECONCILE THEMSELVES WITH THIS WOMAN’S BEREAVED SURVIVORS.
And, PUBLICLY ASSURE THE CITIZENS OF SVG THAT EVERY EFFORT and due care WOULD BE TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT SUCH AN UNFORTUNATE OCCURENCE SHALL NEVER, EVER, HAPPEN AGAIN.
A Soft Answer Turns Away Wrath.
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