Gobat Mur­der: Will Bri­tish Cops Step In?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

In De­cem­ber of 2014 Saint Lucia’s prime min­is­ter re­port­edly dis­missed a UK gov­ern­ment re­quest to scrap the death penalty here as a pre­con­di­tion for Bri­tish as­sis­tance in the Oliver “Ol­lie” Gobat mur­der case. Ol­lie, mur­dered two years ago at Cap Es­tate, had lived and worked in Saint Lucia for sev­eral years. He was also a cit­i­zen of Great Bri­tain.

For his part, the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Philip La Corbiniere said, “Gov­ern­ment is not ready to con­sider abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.” He added that he would not be swayed by the UK or the Euro­pean Union on this mat­ter.

It should be noted that while cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment re­mains on the statute books, the last hang­ing on the is­land took place in 1995.

The is­land’s well-known hu­man rights ad­vo­cate at­tor­ney, Mary Fran­cis, said the time had come to re­con­sider the na­tional po­si­tion on the death penalty. “In Saint Lucia we have a con­sti­tu­tion that guar­an­tees fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights and free­doms but that’s only on pa­per,” she said. “We have a court sys­tem which is not func­tional; we don’t have prop­erly funded gov­ern­ment le­gal aid.”

Nearly a year later, a source tells the STAR that gov­ern­ment is re­think­ing its po­si­tion on the death penalty and is in dis­cus­sions with its Bri­tish coun­ter­part. This, our source says, is hap­pen­ing at a time when there seems to be no res­o­lu­tion to the IMPACS-re­lated prob­lem be­tween the US and Saint Lucia. The United States with­drew all aid to the RSLPF two years ago, fol­low­ing al­leged “gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions” in­volv­ing the po­lice.

At a press con­fer­ence two weeks ago, act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Er­rol Alexan­der con­firmed “in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Gobat’s mur­der are on-go­ing.” He said, “The lead per­son in the homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Saint Lucia re­cently vis­ited the United King­dom to hold dis­cus­sions with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials there.”

The lo­cal of­fi­cial re­port­edly met with the head of the Sur­rey Po­lice and a team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors to dis­cuss the case in greater de­tail and to ex­change in­for­ma­tion that could help ad­vance the probe. Alexan­der made it clear, nev­er­the­less, that to date the lo­cal po­lice have re­ceived no as­sis­tance from the UK au­thor­i­ties.

With the help of Sur­rey MP Do­minic Raab, Eng­land’s Home Sec­re­tary, Theresa May, has been pe­ti­tioned to ap­prove fund­ing for of­fi­cers from Sur­rey Po­lice to be sent to Saint Lucia. How­ever, the is­sue of the death penalty re­mains a ma­jor hin­drance.

With the abo­li­tion of the death penalty in Suri­name re­cently, there has been mount­ing pres­sure on Caribbean gov­ern­ments to fol­low suit. Last month the Inter-Amer­i­can Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (IACHR) called on mem­ber states of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States (OAS) that still have the death penalty to abol­ish it or im­pose a mora­to­rium on its ap­pli­ca­tion as a first step to­ward abo­li­tion. Saint Lucia is a mem­ber of the OAS.

Act­ing po­lice chief Er­rol Alexan­der: Gobat

in­ves­ti­ga­tion still ac­tive.

Will Gov­ern­ment yield to mount­ing ex­ter­nal pres­sure for the abo­li­tion

of the death penalty in ex­change for as­sis­tance in solv­ing crimes in­clud­ing the mur­der of Ol­lie

Gobat?

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