Burton Williams takes stand after failed no-case submission
From the Courts
October 2, 2012
Burton Williams takes stand after failed no-case submission

Embattled politician Burton Williams has told the court that in photographs suggesting he used a barricade to ram the main gate to the High Court building in Kingstown, he was holding on to the bar in “an effort to persuade them from not going forward.”{{more}}

Williams is charged with attempted damage to property and that within the precincts of the House of Assembly, behaving in a manner in which a breach of peace was likely to be occasioned on January 28, 2011.

Williams took the witness stand yesterday after a failed no-case submission by his lawyer, Andreas Coombs.

The unsuccessful New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, who contested the South Windward seat in the 2010 general elections, said the party was holding a protest march against the introduction of two pieces of legislation in the Parliament.

Asked by his attorney whether he could recall some of the things he spoke about at the protest, Williams said: “My address was about the mere fact that the purported amendment to the Representation of People’s Act would have the effect of nullifying a case which had been filed by the NDP against the members of government…”

“What was your intention in giving this speech?” Coombs asked.

“My intention was to let the government know the people of SVG oppose the passing of this legislation,” Williams responded.

“What were your expectations, if any, from the crowd?” the lawyer further asked.

“We were going to rally in the precincts of the House of Assembly with the expectation they in the house of parliament would be aware of our presence,” his client answered.

Williams, neatly dressed in a grey jacket, multi-coloured tie, powder blue shirt, navy blue trousers, dress shoes and wearing a pair of reading glasses, stood firmly in the defendant’s box with his hands in front of him as he continued with his testimony.

As his counsel continued to read snippets from a transcript of an audio recording of Williams’ speech that day, Williams told the court he could not recall “directly” all he said during the protest.

He, however, said the crowd was chanting, waving flags and were shouting “We shall overcome!” “Kill the bills!” and “We want justice!”

Williams said after he had addressed the crowd, he alighted from the truck he was speaking on and began “mingling” with the crowd near the truck.

“I did not make any further speeches to the crowd. I spoke with Superintendent Charles for about five minutes. After that, I was saying to the people that we have to obey police instructions…”

Williams further said a “commotion” took place in front of the main gate to the Parliament building.

“I moved there (towards the commotion) because I had a responsibility to preserve order … There were people in front of the gate shouting and I saw a couple of guys coming with a steel bar and I held onto it an effort to persuade them from going forward,” Williams said.

When shown the photograph of himself and other protestors holding onto a barricade, Williams said it was reflective of the moment he held onto to the bar to persuade protestors from ramming the gate.

He said he released his grip on the steel bar and went forward to the gate, because he saw a “swarm” of police officers coming towards the gate.

“… I saw a police drew his pistol and pointed it at me. I said I am ready to die.”

Williams also told the court that he released the barricade with the intention of talking to the demonstrators.

The trial continues today, at the Kingstown Magistrates’ Court.