June 2, 2006
PM: “No stone left unturned” in Soufriere attack

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said his government would be leaving no stone unturned in bringing to justice the perpetrators involved in a recent double rape on the hills of popular tourist site, La Soufriere.

Four young men, ages ranging from 17 to 26 were up to press time, Wednesday, May 31st assisting police in their investigation into the rape of two teenage Florida, USA girls ages 14 and 17.{{more}}

A usually reliable police source told SEARCHLIGHT that the police are confident that the men being questioned could “assist us greatly in our investigations.” An equally reliable source added that arrests are imminent in the case.

Reports indicate that the incident took place at River Bed, at the foot of the Soufriere mountain last Tuesday, May 30 at around 12:30 pm. SEARCHLIGHT understands that a family of six had left the yacht on which they were sailing to embark on an exhibition to the historic La Soufriere volcano.

They were accompanied on the hike by a tour guide, when the 50-year-old mother of the two victims, about 200 feet up, reportedly complained of being tired and was therefore unable to continue the journey.

SEARCHLIGHT was reliably informed that the tour guide and men in the touring party suggested that the trip be aborted and every one return to the vehicle at Bamboo Range together. After much discussion it was decided that the two young girls would accompany their mother down the hill. Then horror struck!

It is reported that four men attacked them and proceeded to rape the two young women and badly beat the mother.

The victims were taken to the Georgetown Hospital but were quickly transferred to the Milton Cato Memorial in Kingstown.

According to the Prime Minister, every effort has been made to deal swiftly with the incident.

“As soon as the incident took place, Minister Beache (Tourism Minister) contacted me and I was in contact with the people in the area,” Dr. Gonsalves told Searchlight late Wednesday evening.

The Prime Minister confirmed that he met with the mother and father of the victims, to whom he expressed his deepest regrets. And yesterday morning the Prime Minister’s wife, Eloise, was expected to have had breakfast with the family at their hotel in an effort to ease some of their pain.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that the family would more than likely be returning to St. Vincent shortly to pursue the matter legally.

“The government has requested that they come back and deal with every stage of the case and they agreed to it”. All their travel related expenses will be borne by the state. “They appreciate the assistance they have gotten and the way in which we are dealing with the matter.”

Referring to the anticipated widespread international media coverage this incident is likely to arouse, the Prime Minister assured that every effort would be made to lessen the bad publicity that this country could face.

“We are going to be responding to it, I can assure you that, we are going to respond to it broadly. We know we have to deal with the damage,” Dr. Gonsalves told Searchlight.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the prompt manner in which the police and the Ministry of Tourism reacted to the incident would send the message that incidents like this one, and other criminal activities, are not tolerated here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I am taking this very seriously,” the Prime Minister declared.