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Drug accused, Colombian Martin Alonso Velez Velasquez, left, and Vincentian Romaul Benn outside the Serious Offences Court on Monday, July 3, 2023.
Drug accused, Colombian Martin Alonso Velez Velasquez, left, and Vincentian Romaul Benn outside the Serious Offences Court on Monday, July 3, 2023.
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By Patrick Ferrari

The incident I am about to discuss is not an iteration of a past event; it is in fact far from over. It concerns dishonest and duplicitous officials failing to comply with a legal mandate, which constitutes an existential threat to the rule of law.

I read in this paper about an incident involving a Columbian who was arrested on July 1 for selling marijuana. He was remanded to prison on July 3, and his trial was set for July 12. Bam, bam, bam. The Columbian’s treatment contrasted vastly with the Venezuelans in the Union Island incident in 2012. While the Columbian was swiftly taken into custody, remanded to prison, and scheduled for a prompt court hearing, the armed gang of Venezuelans smugglers were quickly released, free as birds to return home even though the violent incursion resulted in a corpse. And to return home without a date for a trial. That is legal vandalism, and I could not help but think, “wutliss, corrupt officials”.

The difference in treatment is a sickening reminder of how immoral, unethical, conniving, and heedless to the rule of law some in high positions of power can be. The law — and justice with it — was cast aside for the Venezuelan criminals. That level of decision-making could only come from high up, way high up. And even then, it could not be made without falsifying evidence. That sort of thing comes as easily to them as “wutliss, corrupt officials” came to me.

The smugglers came all the way from Venezuela with a cache of firearms and a bale of contraband, meticulously sealed and tied to an anchor for easy retrieval in the event they had to jettison then retrieve their valuable goods. And they had to jettison. But not before putting up a fierce gunfight with customs and law enforcement officials. The gunfight ended with a fatality. Take note that the smugglers came fully armed, which established criminal intent. That is like a wet dream to a decent, self-respecting prosecutor. After the firefight — which clinched criminal intent — the contraband was recovered and our law-evading elites, who function as proprietors of our laws, told us, without a spasm of conscience –or integrity — that it was just some “soap powder.” Good grief. These are not serious people. I am still wondering whose puerile mind produced that flaccid, flagrant invention.

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The American, Kellyanne Conway, would call “soap powder” an “alternative fact.” I say it is a falsification of evidence.

These officials are too grand and aglow in self-regard to let a little thing the law cramp their style, so, ultimately — and in practice — legal proceedings ended with that pathetic falsehood. That is what Venezuelan’s contribution to the airport did to their integrity.

And imagine, a man get promote after that stinking, dutty skin piece of legal and political malpractice. Promoted to desecrate a hallowed (now “once hallowed”) place where corruption is anathema to its raison d’être. And they does turn around and tell we how we must have faith: have faith in them; have faith in our system, support the Caribbean Court of Justice. Well, no. That is not a thing for me.

To recap, while the Columbian was caught with cannabis, and his case fixed to be heard in a specified time, and was imprisoned, the Venezuelans’ case was adjourned “sine die”, and, get this good, they were allowed to go back home as free as men. That was 11 years ago. Do you know what “sine die” means? It means “without a day specified”. In the hands of double-dealing, autocrats, though, it means “not going to happen”. And it did not. And it is not going to; justice will not be done. The moment their nationality was learned, the decision to set the criminals free was a done deal. Man, the Columbian had the wrong passport. You can’t see that?

To give Chavez criminals (yes, Chavez, this was in 2012) a get-out-of-Vincy-jail-ticket, listen to the sleazy verbiage they used to evade a legal process. For his part, a smirky Colin Williams, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, full of pompous self-regard said in a sanctimonious-oozing press conference that it will not be difficult to bring the men back after the coroner’s inquest. What “the”? And “after” is the subterfuge to free the men; no higher motive was involved. So, he is saying that legal proceedings must wait on “the” coroner’s inquest. Okay. So, “after”. Cool. But when?

To do “when”, enter from left stage, the big man himself, none other than Ralph E. Gonsalves, with solid disingenuity for his part. Before telling us the when, he brought us up to date on the law, stating that a coroner’s inquest was “legally required,” and promised that it “will be conducted”, then added that he was “hopeful it would be conducted shortly”. Then he forgets. He could well have said: Hark, ye shall see this thing come to pass, know that it is nigh but of unknown duration.

“Legally required” It is a legal mandate, Ralphie. It is a statute, muh man. It is a legal obligation, mister minister. It is prescribed by law, dude. Yet, all the minister of legal affairs — and prime minister, too –offered, is that he hopes the law will be carried out. That’s rich. Did I say we had an existential threat to the rule of law? Is like these fellows lard up they selves with slimy words so we can’t hold them down.

Also—and no small thing at that—in the press conference, the smug-faced dissembler lamented, “if you do not have evidence,” blah, blah, blah. With the ease of a grin on a smug face, the DPP casually dismissed a cache of firearms, spent ammunition, a corpse, and a bale of white powder meticulously sealed, as “no evidence”. Man, an official of this variety could have been real useful to Al Capone back in the day.

It is not so much that they think we stupidie and gullible, oh, they think that all right, but it is that aglow in self-regard and believing in their omniscience and infallibility they think we swallow whatever deception and subterfuge falls out of the mouth. Some of us, though, listen politely to their counterfeits then do our own thinking.

Gonsalves and Williams speak in fluent innuendo and implication, and with their deceitful, capricious pronouncements, they have shown contempt for the public’s intelligence. They have been slippery and blatantly less than open. Both men have displayed reckless disregard for the rule of law. So far, they have failed to act within the laws of the coroner’s inquest; a failure which can lead the public losing trust in the system, which, in turn, can lead to anarchy where crime gets out of control. Sounds familiar?

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

2 replies on “A case of the right passport”

  1. There is a distinct whiff of High Treason within the expose of government officials in this article.

  2. Percy Palmer says:

    Patrick I remember the incident because a family member was involved. That entire issue shows how the police and government handle crime in SVG.
    I believe a custom officer was killed and no justice was initiated so his family could see justice for his murder.
    Did I see somewhere the commissioner mentioned over 100 persons involved in marijuana crimes? Did I also see an article indicating one person handles the growth, sale and export of marijuana from SVG? Does this involve the deaths of young men involved in the trade in SVG?
    There are lots more than meet the eye!

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