Two months after his appointment as a judge in Belize was announced in that Central American CARICOM nation, Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, quietly left St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday to take up his new post.
The Ralph Gonsalves administration has made no announcement about Williams’ departure from the post, which he has held since 2003.
iWitness News was reliably informed that at least one of the nation’s magistrates has refused the offer to become the nation’s chief prosecutor, a constitutional post that some legal minds consider to be the most powerful in the nation.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Belize, Kenneth Benjamin, announced Williams’ appointment as a judge at the Jan. 8 ceremonial opening of the court.
He said that during the course of 2017, formal notification of financial support was received from the Ministry of Finance of budgetary support for the engagement of two temporary judges for the Criminal Division for a period of one year to deal with the backlog of cases.
“In furtherance of this most welcome accommodation, His Excellency, the Governor General, has appointed Mr. Colin Williams, the current Director of Public Prosecutions of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a Justice of the Supreme Court,” Benjamin said.
“Mr. Williams has been a practicing attorney since 1999 and the DPP since 2003 up to the present. He will ascend the Bench in March 2018,” the chief justice of Belize said.
It is not immediately clear who is in charge of prosecutions at the Office of the DPP, since Colin John was not replaced as Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions after he returned to the police force as acting Deputy Commissioner of Police in August 2016.
He was promoted to acting Commissioner of Police after the January 2018 retirement of Renold Hadaway.
Williams was appointed acting DPP in 2003 amidst strong objections by some members of the legal fraternity and supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party.
Among their objections, they noted that Williams had been a spokesperson for the Unity Labour Party, and had been a partner in the law firm of the party’s leader, Prime Minister Gonsalves, whose ULP administration had come to office two years earlier.
Williams replaced Trinidadian Roger Gaspard who was removed as SVG’s chief prosecutor in 2003, sometime after then Minister of National Security, Sir Vincent Beache, criticised his handling of a criminal prosecution and suggested that he would be dismissed.