The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kayra Wil­liams

Direc­tor of Public Prose­cu­tions Daarsrean Greene: Ac­cord­ing to sources at his of­fice the DPP wasted sev­eral pre­cious hours on Wed­nes­day putting to rest con­cerns at home and abroad about a fake-news pub­li­ca­tion that high­rank­ing mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force had been or were soon to be ar­rested on charges re­lated to the in­fa­mous IMPACS Re­port. Said our source, among in­ter­ested par­ties were of­fi­cials of the U.S. State De­part­ment.

Fake news of the worst kind dom­i­nated the at­mos­phere in the days lead­ing up to the gov­ern­ment’s pre­sen­ta­tion of the 2017 Es­ti­mates of Rev­enue and Ex­pen­di­ture. Long be­fore the de­bate got un­der­way, gov­ern­ment ministers were al­ready bat­tling a fierce tide of al­ter­nate facts. The first to speak out was Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Her­mangild Fran­cis, brother of Labour Party chair­man and host of Claudius Fran­cis.

At this week’s reg­u­lar pre-cab­i­net brief­ing on Mon­day morn­ing, the min­is­ter ad­dressed on-air com­ments by his brother in re­la­tion to an on­line story that the gov­ern­ment had iden­ti­fied “ene­mies of the state”, os­ten­si­bly by il­le­gal mon­i­tor­ing.

“Al­though I didn’t hear my brother Claudius Fran­cis,” said the min­is­ter, “it was brought to my at­ten­tion that he as­serted the gov­ern­ment had put to­gether a list of about 20 to 21 per­sons deemed to be ene­mies of the state. I was told he went fur­ther to say a for­eign coun­try had been given names and as­sis­tance re­quested in mon­i­tor­ing tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions.”

Read­ing aloud a re­port by Caribbean News Now, the min­is­ter com­mented: “It states, ac­cord­ing to our lo­cal sources, sep­a­rately con­firmed by con­tacts in the for­eign in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, at­tempts by the Na­tional Se­cu­ri­ties Min­is­ter and by the Cab­i­net it­self to sup­press crit­i­cism and dis­sent have now reached new lev­els with in­ter­cepted re­quests re­port­edly made to col­lab­o­ra­tors in Hong Kong and Canada for as­sis­tance in hacking the elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions of in­di­vid­u­als deemed to be ene­mies of the state.”

The min­is­ter dis­missed the re­port as to­tally false, that he was best placed to know whether or not it was valid.

“I’ve never been in­volved in it, and I want to state cat­e­gor­i­cally that this is a false­hood,” he em­pha­sized. “I want to say to my brother that if he has cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion [on the mat­ter] he should con­tact my of­fice, and I prom­ise the mat­ter will be in­ves­ti­gated. If he does not have [cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion], then I am re­quest­ing he is­sue an apol­ogy—and shut up on that topic.”

Two days later on­line news sources were at it again. This time the of­fice of the Direc­tor of Public Prose­cu­tions was the tar­get. “The DPP in St Lucia has pro­posed to charge the for­mer Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, his then ACP, Head of Crimes and some nine other po­lice of­fi­cers with mul­ti­ple counts of mur­der in ref­er­ence to Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence where it is al­leged some 12 per­sons were killed by the RSLPF be­tween 2011 and 2013. It is said that this was a spe­cial squad of heav­ily armed of­fi­cers who re­ported di­rectly to the COP via the ACP, as or­dered by the for­mer COP. The DPP and AG met with the PM ear­lier to­day where they in­formed NST.”

The DPP’s of­fice has ve­he­mently de­nied the re­port, which it de­scribes as fake news of the worst kind. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the IMPACS mat­ter are re­port­edly on­go­ing.

SLP chair­man Cla­dius Fran­cis (left) and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Her­mangild Fran­cis.

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