Free These People


Once again the people who were railroaded into prison more than 18 years ago and have now spent more than 21 years behind bars have been the victims of a travesty of justice which only Justice Benjamin seems to have understood when he ordered in March last year that the unlawful sentence for the “remainder of their natural live3s” be quashed and that they be brought before a judge within 42 days for resentencing.

For our part, we are not interested in whether they should be in prison for the rest of their natural lives or not.  Our contention is that they should never have been convicted in the first place and we hope that their lawyers will attempt to and succeed in convincing the Privy Council that they were originally tried be an illegal, mercenary court, and yes, a “Yankee Court” whose own Appeal Court certified the trial court as legal in that it was a ‘court of convenience’!

The point is, as has been argued on this page before, that when our Constitution was restored for elections in December 1984 the OECS prime ministers had no authority to amend it, in effect, by refusing to allow the Bishop Murder Trial to be heard in the OECS Court.

Clearly they were acting on the instructions of the US Government which, in those Cold War years, was anxious to rid the country, the region and indeed the world, of these Communist upstarts whom they saw as a danger to their safety.

And they paid handsomely for this – but somehow the President of the Appeal Court did not get his last helping so he has never handed over the written judgement which he delivered on July 12, 1991 and Justice Brian Alleyne played this down in the judgment he delivered last week.

It is interesting to note that after the original appeal was dismissed on July 12, 1991 the governor-general assented to a Constitutional Judicature (Restoration) Act on July 19 to come into effect on August 01. However, when an appeal was filed on July 29 there was a revocation the next day of the Restoration Act which was eventually brought into effect on August 15.

Evidence of the anxiety to get rid of the Communists can be drawn from the fact that, with seven other convicted criminal sentenced to hang being at the prison, the Government of the day started preparations to hang five of them the following week – no doubt to be followed by other batches.

This is recorded in the front page of The Grenadian Voice dated July 27, 1991 which is reproduced on the front page this week.

Subsequently, a letter to the paper from one of the five confirmed that his was so and that the gallows, brought back from loan to St Vincent, had been set up and was being tested.  It was this front page article as well as commentary in the Personally Speaking column which labelled Minister Joan Purcell, who had responsibility for the Mercy Committee, as The Hanging Minister which caused the Government to have change of heart and cancel the hanging.

We now call on the Keith Mitchell administration to recognise the historical facts and free the 17 unfortunate people from his prison.  We also feel that he should come clean with the country on the matter of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is long overdue and which we suspect is being held back because he does not like what it says.

Leslie Pierre


The Grenadian Voice


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