DPP Drops IMPACS Bomb­shell!

Fol­low­ing is the open­ing state­ment de­liv­ered by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions at a spe­cial press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day 26 Novem­ber 2015:

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

As you are all aware the gov­ern­ment ap­pointed a team of spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tors to look into twelve po­lice shoot­ings, which occurred be­tween 2010 and 2012. There had been in­quests con­ducted into th­ese po­lice shoot­ings and of th­ese in­quests one in­volv­ing five per­sons, de­ceased per­sons, was in­com­plete; the other seven were com­pleted, with find­ings of law­ful killings. One came with a find­ing of un­law­ful killing.

The gov­ern­ment passed leg­is­la­tion (on Wed­nes­day 4th De­cem­ber 2013), namely the Po­lice Com­plaints Act No.7 of 2013, to al­low the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the po­lice to ap­point spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tors from out­side of Saint Lucia. That was done and in March of this year the prime min­is­ter made an ad­dress per­tain­ing to the find­ings of that in­ves­ti­ga­tion. A re­port was sent to my of­fice and ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter it was for me to eval­u­ate and as­sess the pro­ba­tive value of the ev­i­dence placed be­fore me.

At the time I re­ceived the re­port, that was in March, I was en­gaged in a trial of Johnathan St. Rose which is a mur­der trial in­volv­ing three de­fen­dants. That trial lasted about three months. There­after I com­menced the trial of Eu­gene St. Ro­maine for the mur­der of Ver­linda Joseph which went on for some time—un­til mid-June when the High Court build­ing was shut down for ren­o­va­tions and re­pairs.

Af­ter that I was en­gaged in preparing nu­mer­ous cases; hun­dreds of cases I might say, for the courts which were due to re-com­mence in Septem­ber and that oc­cu­pied my time. It was only in Septem­ber, while I was on va­ca­tion, that I was able to give my full at­ten­tion to the IMPACS Re­port, as it is called.

What I re­ceived, I must say, did not come in the tra­di­tional form. In fact the man­ner in which the re­port was sent to me, I be­lieve, was un­con­ven­tional. And I can also say that the con­tents of that re­port did not con­form with the re­quire­ments of our laws in Saint Lucia.

In other words, it did not con­sti­tute ev­i­dence as is re­quired un­der the Ev­i­dence Act.

What I read, what was con­tained in the doc­u­ment I re­ceived, com­prised of opin­ions, com­men­tary, sum­mary rec­om­men­da­tions. Of course there were some very se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of in­fringe­ments of some of the gravest and most se­ri­ous of­fences un­der our Crim­i­nal Code. Hav­ing re­ceived that doc­u­ment and pe­rused it, I had to spend time re­search­ing the law and de­cid­ing how to pro­ceed with that mat­ter. I have come to the con­clu­sion that what was pre­sented to me was not in ac­cor­dance with the re­quire­ments of our laws. I have writ­ten to the Hon­ourable At­tor­ney Gen­eral and also to the Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs re­quest­ing that there be com­pli­ance with Sec­tion 3-7 of the Po­lice Com­plaint Act, the amend­ment of which says: ‘ Where in any in­ves­ti­ga­tion au­tho­rized by the Min­is­ter, it ap­pears to the in­ves­ti­ga­tor or lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor that there is prima fa­cie ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal con­duct, he or she shall trans­mit to the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions all ev­i­dence, state­ments and other rel­e­vant ma­te­ri­als aris­ing from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’

What I re­ceived was a re­port. I did not re­ceive state­ments. I did not re­ceive other doc­u­ments, and a lot of the other in­for­ma­tion re­ferred to in the re­port was not sub­mit­ted to me; has not been sub­mit­ted to me. So I have writ­ten re­quest­ing all the ma­te­rial re­viewed by the in­ves­ti­ga­tors to be sub­mit­ted to me. There were other le­gal is­sues aris­ing from the re­port which I can­not dis­close, or go into, but about which I have re­quested in­for­ma­tion. I have also raised this mat­ter with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral.

Hav­ing said that, I also want to tell you how the DPP’s of­fice op­er­ates when we re­ceive a re­port or an in­ves­ti­ga­tion file. I am sure you hear of­ten the po­lice say they re­fer a mat­ter to the DPP for ad­vice dur­ing the course of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. When such a file is sent to me, as DPP, I have to re­view the ev­i­dence to de­ter­mine whether the ev­i­dence com­plies with the re­quire­ments of our Ev­i­dence Act and the crim­i­nal laws of Saint Lucia.

I have to de­ter­mine whether the ev­i­dence is suf­fi­cient and whether the ev­i­dence is ad­mis­si­ble. And the only way I can do that is by hav­ing the ac­tual or the real ev­i­dence—the ev­i­den­tial ma­te­rial upon which the al­le­ga­tions are be­ing made. I must re­view that. It tells me the source of the ev­i­dence, it tells me how the ev­i­dence was ob­tained, it al­lows me to ap­ply the var­i­ous el­e­ments of the law, the laws of ev­i­dence, to de­ter­mine whether that ev­i­dence will be ad­mis­si­ble. In other words, whether it is just hearsay; whether the ev­i­dence will be ad­mit­ted in a court. That is how I do my work.

I do not make pub­lic state­ments on mat­ters that the po­lice have re­ferred to me for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. To do so would be to com­pro­mise the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and, se­condly, also to alert po­ten­tial of­fend­ers that cer­tain ac­tion is likely to be taken against them that will en­cour­age them to evade the law. So there are nu­mer­ous rea­sons why pub­lic state­ments could not be made about this mat­ter.

Hous­ing Min­is­ter Stan­ley Felix: He has pub­licly de­manded the res­ig­na­tion of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.

DPP Vic­to­ria Charles-Clarke: Is she be­ing made the

jus­tice depart­ment’s scape­goat?

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