Mar­garet Pratt Con­tin­ues To Seek Jus­tice In Saint Lu­cia!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Elei­box

The US Em­bassy to the East­ern Caribbean re­cently do­nated some $100,000 worth of equip­ment to Saint Lu­cia’s Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice. While ex­press­ing their ap­pre­ci­a­tion on the oc­ca­sion, Min­istry of Jus­tice per­son­nel said the money would help mend what many have de­scribed as Saint Lu­cia’s “bro­ken jus­tice sys­tem”. In his turn, Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet com­mended Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions, Mr Daarsrean Greene, on his achieve­ments, de­spite his sev­eral hur­dles.

In 2013, the US State Depart­ment sus­pended all as­sis­tance to the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force un­til there was a “cred­i­ble ju­di­cial res­o­lu­tion” of the twelve deaths sus­pected to be ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings by the po­lice in 20102011.

DPP Greene con­sid­ered the re­cent do­na­tion to be a sign of im­prove­ment in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the U.S. State Depart­ment and the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia. He was nev­er­the­less re­luc­tant to say what progress had been made to­ward a res­o­lu­tion of the ear­lier-men­tioned twelve homi­cides.

In­stead, he of­fered the fol­low­ing: “This gen­er­ous do­na­tion by the Em­bassy of the United States is vi­tal to us and will com­ple­ment our nor­mal bud­get al­lo­ca­tion. It will also im­prove our depart­ment’s pro­duc­tiv­ity and ca­pac­ity by reaf­firm­ing our over­all man­date, which is to im­ple­ment a com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy frame­work to en­able the depart­ment to ad­dress crime in a co­or­di­nated, ex­pe­di­tious and fo­cused man­ner.”

He added: “This equip­ment will en­able us to ef­fec­tively re­spond to the rea­son­able ju­di­cial ex­pec­ta­tions. We pledge our com­mit­ment to con­tinue work­ing closely with the U.S. Em­bassy.”

As for Mar­garet Pratt, re­call­ing the mur­der of her hus­band, Roger, in Vieux Fort “one thou­sand days ago”, she hoped the do­nated com­put­ers would as­sist in bring­ing her hus­band’s killers to jus­tice.

In Jan­uary 2014 Roger Pratt was mur­dered while aboard his an­chored yacht. Mar­garet is the only wit­ness. At ev­ery op­por­tu­nity she has ex­pressed her dis­ap­point­ment with the lo­cal crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. She has un­der­taken on­line cam­paigns on all so­cial me­dia plat­forms in an ef­fort to bring the case to jus­tice. She says so far her pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Mar­garet re­cently re­vealed that a promised full trial was sup­posed to be­gin in March 2017, but turned to a voir dire hear­ing. She said she was never given an op­por­tu­nity to at­tend a sin­gle hear­ing, not phys­i­cally nor via video link.

She claims that com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween her and the DPP’s of­fice is “al­most non-ex­is­tent”. She re­ferred to an April 13, 2017 phone con­ver­sa­tion with the DPP that gave her rea­son to fi­nally hope for jus­tice. Since then not much has hap­pened.

As for her re­la­tion­ship with the Saint Lu­cia High Com­mis­sioner in Lon­don, she said it ended most un­pleas­antly.

Mar­garet told the STAR that DPP Greene had not re­vealed the rea­sons for not dcom­mu­ni­cat­ing, other than he had in­her­ited a back­log of sev­eral cases and was do­ing his best to cope in rough cir­cum­stances. “The DPP told me that he was tak­ing per­sonal charge of the case and that he would re­view the de­tailed files over the Easter week­end . . . He in­formed me that he would be pro­vid­ing new in­dict­ments when the courts re­con­vened af­ter the Easter break.

“Of course I want jus­tice for Roger but I also think there’s some lessons from this case that could help oth­ers in my cir­cum­stances. The DPP pro­vided help­ful in­for­ma­tion that I had not been aware of. I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate that and am await­ing his promised fol­low-up in­for­ma­tion.”

Fi­nally on Fri­day 12 May 2017 a hear­ing oc­curred but the judge was not sat­is­fied with al­leged per­pe­tra­tor Richie Kern’s fit­ness to plead, and fur­ther or­dered a trial for 7 July, 2017. Ac­cord­ing to Mar­garet’s lawyer: “The learned judge or­dered that Richie Kern be reeval­u­ated and a fur­ther psy­chi­atric re­port be pre­pared and served upon his at­tor­ney on or be­fore 30 June, 2017. She noted that the pre­vi­ous three psy­chi­atric re­ports for Richie Kern were un­sat­is­fac­tory.” The hear­ing on March 17, 2017 had con­cluded sim­i­larly.

Al­though most of the news was re­layed to Mar­garet by the Res­i­dent Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner, and her lawyer, and not much has been achieved, she is still grate­ful that the case is mov­ing for­ward. Mar­garet’s cam­paign man­ager com­mented: “What is good about the very re­cent progress of the case will ul­ti­mately be good for Saint Lu­cia. There has been lit­tle de­vel­op­ment in the past three years un­til we achieved some pub­lic­ity on the Is­land quite re­cently.”

The mur­der trial date is sched­uled for 8 Novem­ber, 2017.

Roger and Mar­garet Pratt from the UK spent lengthy, en­joy­able stints of time in Saint Lu­cia be­fore his bru­tal death in 2014.

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