Opposition politician Ben Exeter was on Thursday charged with carrying an offensive weapon without lawful authority.
The charge is the fourth stemming from his Dec. 29 arrest in Kingstown, where the opening of the 10th Parliament was taking place.
Exeter was the main opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) candidate for Central Leeward in the Dec. 9 general election, which the NDP is claiming that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) “stole”.
Kay Bacchus-Browne, one of Exeter’s lawyer, told iWitness News that the charge is “ridiculous”.
She accused the police of acting after Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said last week Thursday that it is an offence to carry a licensed firearm to a public meeting.
Gonsalves, a lawyer and Minister of National Security, cited the Public Order Act in making his case, but said he was not commenting on any particular incident.
Bacchus-Browne said that Exeter was charged with “carrying what they call an offensive weapon without lawful authority”.
“It is a stupid charge. I intend to have a press conference on Monday and call in the press and talk about it. My interpretation of that is exactly that Ralph Gonsalves gets on the radio, talks crap, and everybody follows it…” the lawyer told iWitness News.
Exeter was arrested in Kingstown, where NDP and ULP supporters had gathered in protest and support as the opening of the 10th Parliament took place.
He appeared in court on Dec. 30 and pleaded not guilty to assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and assaulting Granville De Freitas of Chester Cottage, causing actual bodily harm.
He is due back in court on Jan. 25.
Charges intended to prevent Exeter from running again — lawyer (+Video)
Bacchus-Browne said that it was not the first time that police were acting after Gonsalves commented publicly on a matter.
“In the case with Ordon Graham, Ralph gets on the radio and talks — follow-up. The same thing with Lynch — follow-up,” she said.
Graham is a former member of the SVG Green Party and Lynch is deceased, former host of the NDP’s daytime radio programme.
“And now I see it is happening with Ben. I think it is political harassment. It is a stupid charge. The man has a licence to carry a firearm. You know what that would mean? That anybody who goes to a public meeting with a firearm can be charged. It is stupid, and it is political harassment,” Bacchus-Browne said.
She contrasted the response of the state to its response to an incident in which Carlos James, the ULP’s candidate for North Leeward in the Dec. 9 general elections, discharged a firearm in Petit Bordel last November to quell what he said was a “rain of missiles” that NDP supporters were showering on ULP supporters at a ULP event.
Election candidate fires gunshots to quell ‘rain of missiles’
“So clearly, it is political harassment and I would like the comparison with Carlos James,” Bacchus-Browne said.
“He (Gonsalves) gets on the radio, or wherever he was, and says what he has to say and then the police just follow on because Ralph is a lawyer,” Bacchus-Browne said in reference to the Prime Minister’s press conference last week.
“It is ridiculous. I saw the charge and I call it a ridiculous charge. Just take the logical step, it means that anybody who goes to any public meeting with a firearm can be charged and it becomes an offensive weapon because it is a public meeting. Can that make sense?” Bacchus-Browne said.
She told iWitness News that she does not think that the charge should stand up in court “on an even playing field”.
Well, the PM seems to also have been inaugurated as the brain of the nation. There appears to be certain levels of understanding between the PM and branches of government that determine the extent to which these bodies are bound in respect of his utterances. It makes their job easy. The police might well find themselves in the good company of the Electoral Office from what I’ve been reading on iWN about the stance if the SOE in abdicating her own integrity in office. SVG is special; that’s for sure.
Yes, when it comes to any decisions we have Mr. brain making them all. That is why SVG is a total mess and very divided, because Mr. brain wants it that way….divide and rule…\it is easier to look good when the nation is a mess, as long as you as a leader can blame it on someone else, or the weather…floods and such.
The Prime Minister has the same right as any other citizen — and far more authority, given his legal training and acumen — to comment on any matter of jurisprudence.
Let the courts decide whether Ben Exeter broke the law.
It actually shows that what some of us think about the DPP is actually true.
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..Good Luck Mr Exeter.
Defense lawyer Kay Bacchus- Brown statements seems very much out of whack really Kay? Seeing they are both lawyers, now if Kay were Prime Minister would she be quoting and upholding the Public Order Act if needs be? And if Gonsalves were defense lawyer would he be issuing a whacko statement? Hmm!
On the other hand why Carlos James situation is not the same and what makes it different? Does PM know? Does Kay know? Does anybody know? Who knows but is not telling? One thing I know for sure is that the answer is not ULP rights vs.NDP rights. That I know for sure!
Out of whack? I suppose it is not “out of whack” to carry a LICENCED FIREARM….FOR DEFENSIVE PURPOSES I MIGHT ADD!
If it were me having that weapon I would have it for defensive purposes. or do you think Mr. Exeter intended on shooting someone….yeah, right, that would sure help his case….Get a brain Vinciman!
Lost fret sorry Pet, again! Kays statement is out of whack especially coming from a lawyer! What about that YOU dont understand? Well stay lost YOU PET, FRET TOO MUCH! And stop petting the issue. Its a done deal, a dead head. Let the court decide.
If Exeter was someplace else say Jamaica, Trinidad, California, Texas etc he might have been a dead or badly wounded man. (Fing with the police?)
Did you know the police were alerted through a complaint by one De Freitas who claimed Exeter assaulted him?
On the other hand the PM was simply sighting The Public Order Act, educating YOU about our rights under the law. It is against the law (illegal) to carry an offensive weapon (even a licensed gun) to a public meeting; except youre an officer or servant of the crown! Ditto!
Lawyers like Kay Bacchus-Brown who could to be a holder of a licensed fire arm “might” be exempted. But she aint telling YOU that!
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