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:
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?