PM: The people say they want their money, pay them!
September 29, 2006

PM: The people say they want their money, pay them!

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is upset and greatly disappointed that justice is being denied to persons on illegal drugs charges because of a $15,000 bill owed to the Barbados Forensic Sciences Centre for the analysis of evidence.

The SEARCHLIGHT was shone on the situation where evidence certificates were being withheld because Vincentian police have incurred $15,000-arrears since fees were introduced in January this year.{{more}}

“Generally speaking justice delayed is justice denied,” Prime Minister Gonsalves told reporters adding that it was not a large sum of money and once the vendor had requested payment, there should be no argument – the bill should be paid.

“The people say they want their money, pay them!”

An openly upset Prime Minister said that he was scheduled to meet with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Godfred Pompey, to discuss the matter.

“It is an absolute joke, it is absolute nonsense” declared the prime minister adding that his language as he investigates the accounting lapse will be quite “robust”.

The first casualty in the bottle-neck is Jamaican Egbert Lewis accused of cocaine possession. He was in jail since January but the sample of the evidence was received by Barbados July 28 and the results were ready within two weeks pending payment. In September the Court was told that the results were not ready and his defence attorney, Bertram Stapleton, asked for the case to be dismissed for lack of evidence. Acting Chief Magistrate Sharda Bollers gave the prosecution until October 10 to produce the evidence against Lewis.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, himself a former defence attorney, said that such delays were used by some defence lawyers especially if they know their clients would be found guilty. He suggested that the lengthy delays give them extra time to come up with the possible fines that they could face. During the delay, he said that some accused persons might also want to risk running another shipment to raise money for the fine.

He reiterated government’s plans to establish a local Forensic Science Centre expected to be housed at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital. The ministry of health has already advertised for a forensic scientist and a technologist.