September 18, 2009
PM: Forgiving Bishop’s murderers not easy

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is finding it difficult to forgive those who were convicted for killing his friend, former Prime Minister of Grenada Maurice Bishop.{{more}}

However, in an exclusive interview with Searchlight, Gonsalves said he had no problem with the decision of current Grenadian Prime Minister Thilman Thomas, who had also been imprisoned by the people who were responsible for killing Bishop, to release the convicts as part of the national healing effort.

Gonsalves gave his views on Tuesday, September 8, four days after Bernard Coard, architect of the tragedy which claimed the life of Bishop and some of his cabinet colleagues in October 1983, was released from the Richmond Hill Prison in Grenada after a quarter century behind bars.

“It is always very difficult for me to find in me the spirit of forgiveness for people who are associated with killing Maurice Bishop and his comrades, even though Christian … beliefs teach us that we must forgive. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy to forgive and as you know I support the death penalty,” said Gonsalves.

In addition to Coard, also released were Callistus Bernard, Hudson Austin, Liam James, Leon Cornwall, John Anthony Ventour, Dave Bartholomew, Ewart Layne, Colville McBarnett and Selwyn Strachan.

Gonsalves acknowledged that when dealing with the tragedy of the Grenada Revolution or any matter of that nature in an objective manner, one has to separate the emotional factors from the legal issues.

On the legal side, he pointed out, Coard and company had been sentenced to death, but this had been followed by appeals, the removal of the death penalty and the early release of other persons who had been convicted for crimes arising from the same events

“So I understand what happens. I understand the process. I have been involved in the legal process and know all the ins and outs so I can’t complain about that legal process, but [for] Ralph Gonsalves, the human being with emotions, it is a [different] thing,” Gonsalves stated.

“I really find it difficult to forgive those who killed Maurice Bishop and his comrades. I certainly cannot forget these terrible crimes; and that the perpetrators have not paid the ultimate price with their own lives,” he added.