Numb from tragedies, in­jus­tice

Jamaica Gleaner - - @ISSUE - Tony Deyal was last seen say­ing that Elvis, singing ‘It’s Now or Never’, was last seen with his blue suede shoes, Dolly Par­ton and the Oba­mas head­ing for Bol­ly­wood.

THE EDITOR, Sir: IN LESS than a week, two in­ci­dents in­volv­ing our chil­dren have rocked Ja­maica. First, there was the ac­quit­tal and shabby trial of Patrick Pow­ell, ac­cused of shoot­ing and killing 17year-old Kingston Col­lege stu­dent Kha­jeel Mais in the back of a taxi in Haven­dale. Then there was the stab­bing death of Ni­cholas Fran­cis, a 14-yearold Ja­maica Col­lege stu­dent.

Both in­ci­dents have left most of us numb, an­gry, and at a loss for words. First, Pow­ell’s ac­quit­tal in what be­came known as the X6 mur­der trial high­lighted what we all know: Our jus­tice sys­tem is in poor shape, which must be part of the rea­son crime is out of con­trol.

Crim­i­nals are aware they can beat the sys­tem, es­pe­cially if they have the re­sources. No coun­try can ad­e­quately de­velop with­out a de­cent sys­tem of jus­tice. We can for­get any hopes of eco­nomic devel­op­ment if these is­sues aren’t ad­dressed and fixed ur­gently.

Ev­ery­one de­serves a fair trial, but the X6 case was high-pro­file, and the cir­cum­stances, and one state­ment given to po­lice by the key wit­ness, the driver of the taxi in which Mais was mur­dered, all slanted one side: guilt. But the case fell apart, and guilt was not proven with­out a shadow of doubt. These cases take too long to

we have lived, our Christ­mas and Di­vali ri­tu­als have helped to give our Bar­ba­dos-born chil­dren a sense of com­fort, to­geth­er­ness and se­cu­rity. Ini­tially, some peo­ple thought our light­ing up the house and fence was obeah. They crossed to the other side of the road and some made the sign of the cross.

But then our neigh­bour from across the street, Sir Regi­nald Sa­muel, artist, teacher and de­signer of the An­tigua flag, ran across and smil­ingly asked if this was Di­vali. He had read about Di­vali but had not seen it cel­e­brated be­fore and was ex­cited. This helped. It was a gift of ac­cep­tance and the real be­gin­ning of a new chap­ter in our lives which, aptly enough, be­gan on a dark, moon­less night.

As a postscript, one of my In­dian col­leagues boasted to me how big Di­vali had be­come in Amer­ica. “Pres­i­dent Obama,” he said, “had a func­tion in White House. He give spe­cial mes­sage. Even Elvis and Dolly Par­ton sing song about Di­vali.” I was scep­ti­cal. “Elvis,” I asked. Tak­ing big breaths, “Dolly Par­ton?” “Yes,” he said adamantly, “You never hear them sing ‘Let There Be Peace in Di­vali’?”

Ibe tried, to be­gin with. The more years that pass, the big­ger the holes get in the case, and of­ten, peo­ple lose pas­sion and in­ter­est.

It is un­be­liev­able in this day and age that wit­ness state­ments, es­pe­cially in a cru­cial case, aren’t recorded. There is one plau­si­ble rea­son the ac­cused did not hand over his li­censed firearm, which could have been a cru­cial piece of ev­i­dence.

NEXT CASE

We hope the jus­tice min­is­ter, as well as the po­lice and pros­e­cu­tion, is busy re­view­ing all the is­sues in this case that went wrong to en­sure that this never hap­pens again. It will be in­ter­est­ing to watch the sec­ond part of the case, re­gard­ing the al­leged re­fusal to turn over the firearm, which starts on Novem­ber 18.

The tragic death of Ni­cholas Fran­cis, killed in a cell phone rob­bery at­tempt on a bus, was also shock­ing. With all that hap­pened on the bus, sur­pris­ingly, we haven’t heard of any­one pro­duc­ing a photo of the crim­i­nal even as he fled. If pic­tures ex­ist, it is time to start pub­lish­ing these.

We un­der­stand the po­lice now has a name, and we hope they move swiftly with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. P. CHIN chin_p@ya­hoo.com

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