Calypsonian Paul “I-Madd” Scrubb, left, and his lawyer, Israel Bruce in July. (IWN photo)

Israel Bruce, lawyer for New York-based calypsonians, Paul Scrubb, who is facing charges of uttering seditious words and threatening to kill Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his family, says his client is innocent and has accused the Government of engaging in a witch-hunt.

Scrubb appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne Matthias at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown on Monday, where the charges were read to him.

He was arrested on Friday at E.T. Joshua Airport as he was about to leave St. Vincent and the Grenadines after five weeks in the country.

The calypsonian, who uses the stage name “I-Madd”, is charged that between Dec. 9 and 31, 2015, he “maliciously sent or uttered threats to kill, to wit, ‘Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also his whole damn family period; … Blessed love’, contrary to section 165(1) of the Criminal Code”.

He is also charged that between Dec. 9 and 31, 2015 he “uttered seditious words, to wit, ‘‘Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also his whole damn family period; … Blessed love’ contrary to section 53(1) (b) of the Criminal Code”.

Scrubb was not required to plead when he appeared in court on Monday.

Paul Scrubb chargeThe prosecution did not object to bail, which was granted in the sum of EC$25,000 with one surety.

Additionally, he is to report to the Calliaqua Police Station on Mondays and Thursdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., surrender all travel documents and obtain the permission of the court to leave the country. Stop notices have been placed at all ports of entry and exit.

A preliminary inquiry into the matter has been slated for Oct. 31.

Speaking to reporters after the court hearing, Bruce said that his client is innocent of the charges.

“Mind you, the utterances, as alleged, were not made by this man; not by this man. But that is a legal hurdle which I will not address,” he said in the interview in which he said the government was trying to intimidate its critics overseas.

Bruce noted that Scrubb was arrested at the airport after spending five weeks in the country of his birth.

“What is exciting to note is that Mr. Scrubb [was] in St. Vincent for five weeks and on the very day he was about to board the LIAT aircraft, he was taken from the airport terminal and he was taken to the Central Police Station, he was interviewed and then charged.”

He further noted that the prosecution said while the charges were being brought seven months after the offences were allegedly committed, the Crown asked for three months to prepare its case.

“So I wonder where is the application of the Full Code Test.”

The United Kingdom Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says on its website that the Full Code Test has two stages: the evidential stage, followed by the public interest stage.

The CPS says: “In most cases, prosecutors should only decide whether to prosecute after the investigation has been completed and after all the available evidence has been reviewed. However, there will be cases where it is clear, prior to the collection and consideration of all the likely evidence, that the public interest does not require a prosecution. In these instances, prosecutors may decide that the case should not proceed further.

“Prosecutors should only take such a decision when they are satisfied that the broad extent of the criminality has been determined and that they are able to make a fully informed assessment of the public interest. If prosecutors do not have sufficient information to take such a decision, the investigation should proceed and a decision taken later in accordance with the Full Code Test set out in this section.”

Scrubb speaks with opposition New Democratic Party activist and radio talkshow host, Margaret London after securing bail. (IWN photo)
Scrubb speaks with opposition New Democratic Party activist and radio talkshow host, Margaret London after securing bail. (IWN photo)

Bruce was satisfied that one element of the Full Code Test was met but raised questions about the other.

“Clearly, if you have a matter like for which Mr. Scrubb is charged, there is a national interest. But, where is the evidential sufficiency? If you had that, why would you need three months as of today’s date to investigate then before you can properly lay your case in the court?

“That says to me, again, it is witch-hunting. And it is intended to satisfy some of the available positions that are in the Cyber Crime Bill that is not yet an act,” he told reporters.

The Cybercrime Bill, which is before a select committee of Parliament, will criminalise certain activities on the internet, and the draft includes a section that will allow the Government to extradite Vincentians overseas under the Fugitive Offenders Act.

Bruce said the prosecution of Scrubb is the Government’s way of sending a message to Vincentians in the diaspora “wherever you are, do not say anything because when you come to St. Vincent, we can use our powers of arrest and arrest you.”

He noted the implications of the court proceeding on Scrubb’s employment in the United States.

“… this man has a job. You know what that means? By virtue of holding the request to hold him here for three months, his job goes into jeopardy. He loses that job. Nobody cares. And you’re asking him to stay here for three months while you investigate,” Bruce said.

He noted that the offences were allegedly committed in December 2015

“So you have between December and July. So, in seven months, you couldn’t have enough evidence to bring the charge, but you want three more months and in three months you will be able to do it. Now, let the ordinary man who is listening to this and hearing this come to one conclusion: the ultimate objective is scaremongering; to scare people like Paul Scrubb and the others. But for those who intend to succeed on scaremongering, they must get the message. It will not work. People in the diaspora will be resolved to speak about the issues in St. Vincent,” Bruce told reporters.

(Update: The following video was added after this article was initially published.)

https://youtu.be/xnPb-4Tq1rY

13 replies on “Calypsonian not guilty of threatening to kill PM — lawyer”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    1. He should have employed Jomo instead.

    2. Threatening to kill someone is an everyday occurrence in Vinciland as in “I’m going to kill your cunt,” an expression hurled at yours truly trouble-man dozens of times. So this charge should be dropped fo cultural reasons as well as legal ones: the police would never lock up an ordinary person for this so why must the PM be privileged in this way? Isn’t he a human being like the rest of us?

    Sedition is an entirely different issue which requires more thought…

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      In this day and age I want you to go on the street in any country and tell someone you don’t know, you’ll kill them and see what happen.
      Good thing you don’t live in Canada or America, you’ll get a legal nightmare you’ll never forget.
      Maybe one day I’ll meat you and tell you I’ll kill your Fu******G ass, and let me see what you’ll do.
      You just dumb. ( boy 0 )

    2. C. ben the best precedent for this “sedition” outrage is the Ordan Graham case. Even though Mr. Graham eventually won his case, he lost wealth, income and the right to live peacefully in SVG. Now he is in self-exile. But the man who threatened to make SVG ungovernable – a powerful labor party man – never faced prosecution but was rewarded with many dibs at the public trough. What ah country! Where is the Democracy?

      We might well have laws on the books that would hold politicians and police accountable in a real economic and financial manner for wrongful and malicious prosecution. But as it is in Mr. Graham’s case the winners of lawsuits against the government are rarely made whole through compensation – legal damages for the economic/financial injuries suffered – even if a court hands down such remedies.

      I doubt that Jomo would jeopardize his “Speakership” by taking on such a case. In fact, Jomo might be effectively silenced, now that he has a seat at the throne of ULP power.

      And so the ordinary Vincentian citizen continues to live in legal jeopardy.

      Vinci Vin

  2. Watching Hard says:

    I’m trying to comprehend how those words could be interpreted as a threat. It seems to me that an opinion was being expressed. As far as I know citizens are still free to express opinions.So what if you are offended by the expressed opinion? Democracy also entails having the right to offend. That is part and parcel of freedom of speech. If you are thin skinned and take offence easily then perhaps you should remove yourself from the public sphere. Having offensive statements directed at you comes with the territory when you are in the public sphere, especially if you are a politician.

    My other thought is, why in the name of everything that’s sensible and reasonable would the State use its scarce and thin resources to prosecute this? Why when there are so many other critical things to deal with we focus our resources on this relatively insignificant thing? I can see that this new cybercrime bill that they intend to pass could be used like a bully stick to keep in line anyone who even thinks of offending those in power. The legislation may just be an instrument to pull out when its convenient regardless of whether any real harm has been suffered by anybody.

    Citizens need to consider what their legal options for redress are in situations like this. There must be some kind of redress available in situations like this that to my mind amounts to simple harassment of powerless citizens.

    1. Very well said. When this is going to happen in the future the sad thing is that an authoritarian government will have more resources to prosecute than the people will have to defend themselves. Guess who will win in most cases? Even if the people win, they lose because they will lose their wealth and their jobs in the defense process; and the government will win even if they lose because they effectively scare the public and ruin someone’s life in the process.

    2. Luther Bonadie says:

      Listen you bunch of small minded, and small Island mentality people.

      If you are so smart then tell him if he is an American citizen then let hill call the embassy in Barbados and see if they come to his rescue.

      They will sweet and nigger so far under the bus you’ll cry oh God.

      Listen, making treat may go in your mouth, but you go make treat in todays world about killing anyone in Canada, Europe, America, or Obama and then you come tell me.

      You bunch of small minded fools

  3. If he is a threat to PM since Dec.2015 why wasn’t he held when he landed?. He was walking around free for 5 weeks wasn’t he a threat?, why wait until he is leaving and will no longer be a ‘threat’ to hold and keep him around longer?. It’s all about destroying another critic. “I immediately call somebody and got Brian Ale—–r number i try to call, i didn’t get him but lastnight Chris i lying…i…i…i met several pe…i told several people that i want to kill Brian Ale—-er”

    1. Luther Bonadie says:

      Look, If you live in North America and have a job, once you travel you got to get back at a certain time.

      Now, this boy if he has a job will be late coming back to his job, he may have wife kids, and rent and bills to pay etc.

      If you ever lived in North America you’ll know what I am talking about.

      If that boy is charge in St. Vincent for anything, he may not enter the USA again. One swipe and red flag of his passport and he is fu***ked.

      In today’s world my friend you don’t make threat’s to anyone, and you know these fools, just find out Facebook and they just dumb never see come sees.

      1. Brown Boy USA says:

        Luther you are a one-sided person who is blinded by political favoritism and playing with the lives and livelihood of your own people, for what curry favor? Principle is principle, and if so is the case well arrest people like Hans King who has public threaten people, oh no he’s labour. So therefore the law only applies to certain individuals and not to others. Fair is fair and this is a clear case of victimization. And you address the young man as “this boy”, who the “F” you think you are? You just like the party you support. But today for I-madd tomorrow maybe for you, so check yourself before you wreck yourself, we are all Vincentians, not UPL Vincentians or NDP Vincentian, Vincentians PERIOD! And we must learn to be respectful of each if we are to maintain decency and democracy in this country.

    2. Maybe the authorities were hoping he would try to carry out the “threat” so they could catch him red-handed. Obviously, even if those were his words, he is effectively saying: “I wish someone else would do it.” You really need corrupt courts to make that one work….Obviously not a threat at all. He will lose his job in the USA and the authorities here will be very happy for punishing a critic.

  4. Jeannine James says:

    Farcical, embarrassing and ultimately dangerous. I have yet to meet a more idle and juvenile bunch of public officials who are interested only in squandering taxpayers’ money and only get excited about some threats but not about others. Public employees, among others, openly threaten to kill random people who irritate them for whatever reason and nothing happens: not even a public rebuke. So what is so new here? Some lives are worth more than others or what?

  5. I think the authorities know they have no chance to win this case. the purpose is to scare and threaten the population into love and compliance. Wasting tax-payer’s money is of no concern to them.

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