From the Courts
August 30, 2016
Nice Radio boss pleads not guilty to 10 additional charges

Proprietor of Nice Radio (96.7 FM) Douglas ‘Dougie’ DeFreitas pleaded not guilty yesterday to 10 additional charges that on December 10, 2015, he made statements “likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace.”

The 10 charges relate to statements DeFreitas allegedly made on his radio station the day following the December 9, 2015 general elections.{{more}}

According to the charge sheets, nine of the statements in question are:

“It was just reported to us here at Nice Radio in Patel’s constituency most of the ballot boxes are unsealed, opened and six (6) ballot boxes in Central Kingstown are unsealed. That is contamination and no recount can change contamination”;

“There are quite a bit of persons down there in Layou already so we need as much persons who can journey down in Central Leeward to show solidarity and support, if you have six ballot boxes unsealed for recount, that is contamination”;

“Remember what the people of Saint Kitts did to protect democracy? We need to do that because an alleged major fraud has taken place in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines”;

“Okay, I was just told that one of the ballot boxes down in Central Leeward, six (6) of the ballots are unsealed, six of them unsealed. So we have a situation developing; we need a by-election”;

“And I am telling you that there is something radically wrong with the results of North and South Leeward”; “We heard that there has been an arrest of someone, a clerk that had information in his vehicle. I heard that the police may have arrested someone to deal with some issue of fifty-six (56) votes and other documentation that shudda not been in his possession”;

“Six ballots unsealed and one missing; that alone tells you that something went radically wrong”;

“I am just reminding the public that information reaching us here at Nice Radio that in North Leeward, In North Leeward, most of the ballot boxes were unsealed more than in Central Leeward, unsealed. That’s contamination”;

“I heard that a person from Layou was arrested; I was reliably informed that police have taken up someone from Layou who had information in their vehicle, who was involved in the electoral process. I will leave the name out for now, but I am just saying that I was reliably informed that this is so”.

SEARCHLIGHT did not obtain the 10th charge sheet.

DeFreitas’ matter was adjourned to September 13 and will be heard at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court, magistrate Bertie Pompey having recused himself.

On June 21, DeFreitas also pleaded not guilty to a similar charge. He was charged then that he did publish a false statement, which was likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace to wit: “I have just had confirmation that six (6) of the ballots were unsealed and one (1) missing. Six (6) of the ballots were unsealed and one (1) missing. It means that something went on down there in the polling station and we are calling for by-elections by Monday. We want by-election; we don’t want…And I want the leadership to the NDP to find some transportation, get supporters to go down there and to get into place, please and persons who can go on their own, go down there and support Exeter on this matter.”

All the charges have been laid under Section 64 (1) of the Criminal Code, Chapter 171 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009, which states that “Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear or alarm or to disturb the public peace, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for one year.”

Section 64(2), however, says, “It shall be a defence to a charge under subsection (1) if the accused person proves, prior to publication, he took such measures to verify the accuracy of such statement, rumour or report as to lead him reasonably to believe that it was true.”

Lawyers Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Israel Bruce represent DeFreitas.

When on December 9, 2015, the Unity Labour Party was announced as the winner of the general elections by a 8-7 majority, the Opposition NDP refused to accept the results and called out their supporters.

Two election petitions filed by the NDP to challenge the results were struck out on June 23 by High Court Judge Brian Cottle, because the petitioners (Benjamin Exeter of Central Leeward and Lauron Baptiste of North Windward) were obligated to provide sureties and this was not done. The NDP has since appealed Cottle’s decision.