The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

Iknow I run the risk of my mean­ing be­ing lost or mis­con­strued. And yes (to para­phrase Frank Si­na­tra) I hear the warn­ing voice that yells and re­peats in my ear: “Don’t you know lit­tle fool you never can win . . . wake up to re­al­ity . . .” Alas, there’s also the more per­sua­sive adage that prom­ises “noth­ing ven­tured, noth­ing gained.” So, here we go. Have you ever lost a love that was heaven and earth to you? I have. Her name was Frisky, given by me for ob­vi­ous rea­son. On all fours she stood less than twelve inches; color black-and-white, de­vo­tion to me im­mea­sur­able. In her pres­ence no one dared speak out loud, even while shar­ing a joke. When I wres­tled friends at the beach as we did ev­ery Sun­day, they al­ways made cer­tain Frisky had been safely teth­ered. To­gether we jumped off the La­borie jetty into the sea, then pad­dled side by side back to shore; she fol­lowed close by as I biked around the then un­en­cum­bered vil­lage square and was al­ways first to greet me ev­ery morn­ing—since she spent her nights im­me­di­ately out­side my bed­room door.

I have never for­got­ten the day Frisky died. A rainy af­ter­noon, she had cho­sen to nap in the warmth, less than a hun­dred yards from our fam­ily res­i­dence near the square, un­der a parked six-wheeler truck. Mean­while I was in bed bliss­fully por­ing over a stack of re­cently ac­quired Bat­man comic books. Sud­denly a scream . . . the like of which I hope never again to hear. It started pierc­ingly loud, then grew weaker and weaker un­til I could no longer hear it. I re­mem­ber sit­ting up and won­der­ing: Who was that? Yes, who— not what, even though my ripped-apart heart had al­ready an­swered my ques­tion: the sound that had near shat­tered my ear drums was dy­ing Frisky vainly call­ing out to me. I’ll bet most sur­viv­ing La­bo­ri­ans of a cer­tain age eas­ily re­call my ag­o­nized screams upon con­fronting my worst night­mare. Even to this day, I re­mem­ber pre­cisely how I felt as I dragged from un­der that truck the limp and bro­ken body of the best friend a boy ever had!

And so I come to Theo and He­len Go­bat, still griev­ing for their son, whose scant re­mains were re­trieved by lo­cal cops from his burned-out Range Rover in a se­cluded sec­tion of Cap Es­tate one hor­ri­ble April night in 2014. Sev­eral days af­ter­ward, the po­lice con­tin­ued to in­sist (be­cause of prob­lems at their crime lab, they said) that the press not iden­tify the re­mains as that of Oliver Go­bat. Of course, the po­lice could not pre­vent his par­ents from hold­ing a me­mo­rial for their beloved dearly de­parted. Among at­ten­dants, none other than Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter with ap­pro­pri­ate de­meanor. Kenny An­thony’s pres­ence served to con­firm what al­most ev­ery­one had known soon af­ter the grisly dis­cov­ery: that the mur­der vic­tim was Oliver Go­bat. The prime min­is­ter, de­spite the po­lice re­luc­tance to say the ob­vi­ous, de­liv­ered what in the cir­cum­stances amounted to a com­fort speech, al­beit mean­ing­less: he said the po­lice were on top of things, to the ex­tent that an ar­rest was im­mi­nent. Noth­ing was ever fur­ther from the truth. The STAR fea­tured a re­lated story soon af­ter­ward.

Ac­cord­ing to over­seas news re­ports, Kenny An­thony said a whole lot more to the bro­ken Theo and He­len Go­bat. By one ac­count, dated 21 Novem­ber 2014: “St. Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter has dis­missed as ‘im­proper’ the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment’s de­mands that the death penalty be waived in the case of the mur­der of the Bri­tish hote­lier Ol­lie Go­bat, cre­at­ing a diplo­matic stand-off be­tween the Caribbean is­land and its for­mer colo­nial ruler.”

More­over: “Kenny An­thony says he sup­ports a re­quest from Mr. Go­bat’s fam­ily for Bri­tish of­fi­cers to as­sist with the mur­der hunt but does not agree to White­hall’s stip­u­la­tion that it will send a squad only if St Lu­cia guar­an­tees it will not seek cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment for his killers. [He said] the prob­lem some­times with the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment is that they have for­got­ten the con­sti­tu­tions that were fash­ioned for us. No gov­ern­ment can get into the busi­ness of bar­gain­ing as to the out­come of a case.”

The same news source quoted An­thony as telling an in­ter­viewer: “Of course there’s cor­rup­tion in our po­lice force . . . On small is­lands like ours you are more vul­ner­a­ble to cor­rupt in­flu­ences.” For its part, the UK’s Daily Mail fea­tured an in­ter­view with the Gobats in which it claimed “the fam­ily is say­ing Kenny An­thony did tell them it was ‘in­con­ceiv­able’ the killers of their son would ever face the death penalty.” He­len Go­bat, ac­cord­ing to the Daily Mail re­port, em­pha­sized: “The word the prime min­is­ter used was ‘in­con­ceiv­able.’ In our meet­ings with the prime min­is­ter he told us the death penalty has not been car­ried out since 1995. Due to changes in the law it is un­likely to ever take place again.”

To date there have been no ar­rests re­lated to the death of Oliver Go­bat. I can only imag­ine how his par­ents must’ve felt this week upon learn­ing their son was once again in the head­lines. Chances are they an­tic­i­pated good news. If so, they must’ve been dev­as­tated upon dis­cov­er­ing the truth, that once again in­sen­si­tive politi­cians were do­ing what they do best. In ef­fect driv­ing a truck over their son’s body!

What had res­ur­rected Oliver Go­bat was a state­ment from Kenny An­thony, whose voice most Saint Lu­cians have not heard since his sur­prise an­nounce­ment of the June 6, 2016 gen­eral elec­tions: “My at­ten­tion has been drawn to the fol­low­ing state­ment made by Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet dur­ing a re­cent press con­fer­ence and aired on Choice News in its news broad­cast on or about Jan­uary 17, 2017 in con­nec­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of Oliver Go­bat: ‘Un­for­tu­nately the for­mer gov­ern­ment had promised to send a let­ter to the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment say­ing we [sic] would not pur­sue the death penalty and we were told re­peat­edly that that let­ter had been sent. That was a lie.’ The for­mer gov­ern­ment in which I served as Prime Min­is­ter, never ever gave the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment any un­der­tak­ing, whether ex­pressly or im­pliedly, that it would not pur­sue the death penalty for any­one con­victed of the mur­der of Oliver Go­bat.”

Au con­traire, An­thony con­firmed over­seas news re­ports that he had “ad­vised the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment that the ques­tion of whether the death penalty was ap­pli­ca­ble was a mat­ter for the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion.” Ad­di­tion­ally, that “it was made pa­tently clear that any such at­tempt to di­rect the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion and the court to forego the death penalty would be un­con­sti­tu­tional.”

It seems to me that An­thony, keep­ing in mind his hol­low prom­ise to Go­bat’s dev­as­tated par­ents three years ear­lier, might more use­fully have writ­ten pri­vately to Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet un­der­scor­ing his mis­state­ment. Or he might’ve so in­formed the House at its next sit­ting. Still quoted from his pub­lic ac­count: “It sad­dens me that Allen Chas­tanet has cho­sen to not only politi­cize this mat­ter by his state­ments to Choice News but ad­di­tion­ally, with un­true state­ments. I be­lieve the Gobats can do with­out the un­due and un­war­ranted politi­ciza­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of their son. They have suf­fered enough. Fi­nally, Mr. Chas­tanet must know that un­like him, who tram­ples on our Con­sti­tu­tion with im­punity, I be­lieve in honor­ing and re­spect­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion of Saint Lu­cia to the best of my abil­ity, in or out of gov­ern­ment.”

The Gobats were not avail­able for com­ment at time of writ­ing. Nei­ther was Dame Pear­lette. It cer­tainly would be in­struc­tive to hear the gov­er­nor gen­eral on the for­mer law pro­fes­sor’s judge-jury-ex­e­cu­tioner as­sess­ment of his un­yield­ing loy­alty to our supreme law!

Go­bat mur­der re­mains un­solved.

The hote­lier son of Theo and He­len Go­bat, Oliver was killed in April of 2014. To date, de­spite wide­spread shock­ing re­lated sto­ries, there have been no ar­rests!

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