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By Patrick Ferrari

Belizean High Court Justice, Colin Williams, a Vincentian, could someday be named to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Up to last year, Justice Williams was the autocratic Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the Ralph Gonsalves government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The CCJ and its watchers — and all Caribbean people — should sit up and take no comfort: Such an appointment is not peculiar to SVG. No one should take comfort from the possibility. Indeed, they should be afraid. Very afraid.

No court, high or low, should be a political trophy or a haven for damaged interlopers. With the recent CCJ sales blitz, you’d be in better stead if you look at these old facts afresh. This should be read like a mournful dirge with the chorus: The man is a judge, Lordy.

But first, a perspective. A short look at Williams’ career — you can look at it through a straw — see him go from a private citizen in Dr. Gonsalves’ law chambers, to public relations officer of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP), to a senator in the ULP Government, to his appointment as DPP despite the weighty objections and “profound dismay” of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association. And now to his current position as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Belize — a CARICOM country.

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He sailed straight through this sordid calamity — not just unscathed but promoted — with opportunistic, immoral and sometimes legally suspect decisions. Depending on where you sit, you might want — but you should never expect — those qualities in a judge. It is simply appalling.

Here are the facts.

June 3, 2012. Nine Venezuelan smugglers illegally entered SVG territorial waters off Union Island. Customs and the police approached the vessel and a gunfight evolved. Four people died.

During the fight a package tied to an anchor, was thrown overboard.

June 8, 2012. At the time, SVG was building the Argyle International Airport with Venezuela’s help. So, petrified of a fair trial, Esperanza de Mata, the mother of three of the nine smugglers involved in the fatal gunfight wanted Chavez to intervene, presumably to upend St. Vincent and the Grenadines judicial independence and the due process of law to free her three criminal spawns. “I call on President Chavez to help me out of this distress. I want to see my sons walk through that door,” she threatened. Four dead, her sons alive but she was still distressed.

June 19, 2012. The waterproofed package and anchor were retrieved and the police identified its contents as “washing soap.” Only a servile, bootlicking toady, with one eye on a black robe, would accept that.

September 21, 2012. The DPP discontinued the case against the gun-toting intruders. They were discharged, free to go home without as much as a coroner’s inquest — which is required by law. Was the other eye on the airport?

September 25, 2012. The DPP defended his decision not to proceed with the case against the Venezuelans because there was “no evidence”. Is that how a prosecutor’s mind works? Did the smugglers explain “washing soap”? Did he ask? “No evidence” is to fly in the face of a veritable cache of evidence: Red-handed crime survivors, dead victims, fingerprints, guns, spent rounds (the DPP has access to ballistic analyses), and a bizarre package, yet refuses to proceed because “there was no evidence”.

If he had a soul, he sold it. “No evidence” is obsequious and incandescent stupidity. Not to mention the “c” word.

An unprovoked “they cannot tell me what to do,” means they told him what to do, like: accept “washing soap;” say “no evidence;” stonewall the coroner’s inquest: The programming of a Manchurian Candidate. Is this the kind of consideration needed to be promoted to the esteemed bench in Belize? Then, it is the face of the law of diminishing returns.

Colin Williams1
Justice colin williams, a former director of public prosecutions in st. Vincent and the grenadines. (iwn file photo)

The discontinuance left us with the only other premise. (1) Nine desperate Venezuelans chipped in to buy a single packet of washing soap, which is hard to come by in Venezuela; (2) they waterproofed it in case they had to throw it overboard for safe keeping; (3) they carefully secured it to an anchor to be able to retrieve it. (4) That done, they set out for their 500-mile trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a small arsenal to protect their precious packet of “washing soap;” (5) their aim was to smuggle the commodity that is cheap and easily found in every corner store in SVG; (6) then they would peddle it and then head back to take care of their families with the profit from a packet of “washing soap”.

Almost laughable if four people did not die. And no inquest to uncover the truth. And if the DPP didn’t play along with a theory — and packet — that dismisses rational discussion and one that would not otherwise fool a gullible nincompoop. And that Mister Washing Soap DPP is now a judge.

The illegal, high-spirited and fatal misadventure only piqued the top prosecutor’s curiosity. “Curious” with a smug grin and rosy giggle. But not curious enough trigger moral and legal probity to find the truth. It is a grim calculus of moral turpitude.

October 9, 2012. The DPP defended the decision to let the Venezuelans go home before a coroner’s inquest was held because “it would not be difficult to bring the men back after the coroner’s inquest.” “The?” Which? “After?” Are they not central and indispensable witnesses to an inquest? Before it is concluded?

December 7, 2012. Still no coroner’s inquest but the Prime Minister, who is the Minister for Legal Affairs, expressed his hope for one. “I am hopeful that this would be done shortly.”  How long is “shortly”? Then he shot himself in the foot. “Under the revised laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, a coroner’s inquest was (is) legally required and will be conducted,” which is as good as saying that it is illegal not to have one. And he made “hope” incongruous.

December 6, 2013. Eventually a “coroner’s inquest,” — one without the Venezuelan witnesses and therefore a sham. No sooner it started, Senior Magistrate Sonya Young adjourned the hearing sine die. Five years on, it is still in permanent limbo. Why was it buried? Sonya Young is also a Justice of the Supreme Court of Belize. Same as Williams.

This iniquitous event could have been the inspiration for Richard Condon’s novel, “The Manchurian Candidate.”

The Union tragedy, tragic as it was, was not the biggest problem. The problem was what happened afterwards: A judicial coup d’état; the public rape and manipulation of our justice system.

The CCJ does not get to sit on the bench for this one. It is not a spectator’s sport. This is a case for reparation if there ever was one. They should open their eyes — and ears — and at least be seen to be doing something about their learned friend’s submissions. It is a travesty of justice — all around. Williams should not have gone up in stature, which makes me smell collusion. Have they no respect for perception?

Above all, the CCJ is expected to stand behind the justice system’s Holy Grail, the aphorism (Lord Justice Hewart’s): Not only Justice must be done; it must also be seen to be done — for the good of itself and its black robe confederates. Williams’ actions and decisions show more than mere appearance of bias and now that he has been promoted to the bench, the CCJ has suffered collateral damage. After all, he’s one of them — in-waiting.

Until “legally required” is done; “soon” or not; and not hung out to dry on “hopeful”, the Union Island tragedy will be an open sore and a pox on St. Vincent and the Grenadines justice system and its manipulators.

Every day, thousands of Venezuelans flee Venezuela, surely “it would not be difficult to bring back” the remaining six living smugglers of “washing soap”. Surely.

Chavez is dead. The airport is built. Maduro is out of money. Besides everything, what’s to lose if the new DPP brought them back?

Dread, he cyarn even try.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

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11 replies on “The CCJ must protect the court from subversive agents”

  1. Patrick, I commend you for not letting us forget this sad event in recent Vincentian History, and how rotten the government handled it. The Vincentian people’s Justice System were sold out for an alleged package of soap powder. Few people on earth are so stupid to believe that. It displays how Vincentians put politics above humanity itself. It shows what the government thinks of the Vincentian intellect…soap powder! ALL VINCENTIAN PEOPLE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THIS. If real justice were to be served, the person or persons who ordered this charade and were instrumental in the perpetration thereof should spent several consecutive life terms in prison and certainly not hold high positions in society! Four people died! I wonder how some of these people involved in this charade sleep at night?!
    For continuing to remind us of this shows how great your character is. I do not agree with everything you write but I certainly applaud your courage to show things how you see them. In this case, as most of the time, I totally agree with the facts as you present them. It shows how very rotten the souls of humans can become, particularly many of those with high positions in society that decide our fate.

  2. I would want to believe that for you to authenticate and convince “The CCJ and its watchers — and all Caribbean people” of your likelihood that “Belizean High Court Justice, Colin Williams, a Vincentian, could someday be named to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)”. To do so, you will have to substantiate such by the releasing of similar compatibles on past precedents of previous appointees to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)

    Is this a coincident that this assumption is being released during the controversy of the US Senate vote on sending Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court?

  3. People like Patrick Ferrari still think the people of his colour and wealth must rule and poor blacks must not be elevated. Gone are the days for that Patrick.

    1. People like Patrick Ferrari are descendants of dirt poor Portuguese indentured labourers brought to SVG from the Macaronesia region off the west coast of Africa in the mid- to late-19th century to work on the country’s sugar plantations.

      If some of them are now wealthy then it only because of hard work and ambition.

      If you don’t believe me, ask Ralph, a direct descendant of these same immigrants.

  4. Unfortunately, the case of the rise of Colin Williams is only one example of the politicization of justice in our economically hard-up Caribbean micro-states where everone knows everyone else and all relevant actors are dependent for their very survival on dispensations from local and international actors.

    Taken together with a high tolerance for and expectation of various forms of dishonest and unethical behaviour from the top to the bottom of society — a pheonomenon rooted in both history and contemporary economic hardship — it is no wonder that most ordinary citizens have no confidence in the allegeded independence of the Caribbean Court of Justice which is why they will reject joining the court in the referenda to be held in Antigua/Barbuda and Grenada on November 6.

    It is because those who are expected to personally benefit the most from the court’s expansion, namely most members of the political and legal classes, are the very people leading the charge to dump appeals heard by the impartial Privy Council law lords is why most ordinary people are going to vote no.

    How would such people benefit? Just re-read Patrick Ferrari’s essay.

  5. The only fault I find with this story Mr Patrick is that you have been too kind to these people and have pulled punches.

    Otherwise it is a story that needs to be told over and over again and no one better at doing that you .

    Thank you

  6. The best written piece that I’ve read thus far about this pending doom aka the CCJ… boy am I glad I no longer live within its reach but sadly I have family members who do … the CCJ in itself is not a bad idea but of course it is not an entity unto itself hence the reason I rather stick with the Privy which cannot be swayed one way or the other by collusion…more money or not I rather have a precedence of visible justice

  7. Well it’s about time the bajan journalist start writing about how they feel about the ccj and the government hold a referendum on this ccj and let the people of Barbados decide rather to stay or leave this kangaroo court.there is a another case with a none Barbadian family taking the government of Barbados to the ccj. Think I already know the outcome but I would wait and see.

  8. Patrick my fellow Vincentian, I hope many Vincentians read your paper because it is so honest a child could understand it; It speaks to an issue facing us namely political corruption. I often contemplate whether Vincentian people are aware of the blatant abuse of power that is happening. Like for instance that little affair in parliament about of a vote of no confidence that was botched by a judge. After that happened, no questions were asked and the matter just went away as if it never happened.
    Dr. Gonsalves behaves as if he is the lord and master of Vincentians; He can have his way and nothing will be done about it. Don’t tell him that crime is rising out of the pan under his watch. They want us to believe that the rising crime rate has nothing to do with bad government and then some people stand up and defend that. Well, if ever there was a trigger then this Union Island case is it. My hope is that Vincentians would stop walking with their head down and start to look at what is happening right in front of them
    Many times I come home from a 14 hour workday, pick up my tablet and read about the situation that people are living in in our blessed country and I become totally upset. These practices must end. The powers that be must show respect to the people who put them there. Vacate or be evicted.

  9. The “powers that be” have the same mind as “the people who put them there.” They are just like Ralph and Ralph is just like them. Because they form the majority of the population, nothing can ever vacate this regime.

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