December 3, 2010
PM may take civil action against Nice Radio owner

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has said that he is considering taking civil action against Douglas DeFreitas, owner of Nice Radio, for comments which suggested that Gonsalves was preventing the return of Vincentian Dexter Chance and two other men from the British Virgin Islands, after they had been extradited there to answer drug trafficking charges.{{more}}

Gonsalves, at a media briefing on Monday, November 29, read a transcript of a statement he said DeFreitas made on his radio station on November 26.

DeFreitas in his comments said that the Prime Minister “went down to Chateaubelair and got into something.”

“I don’t concern with certain people’s lifestyles, but I found out that the men who were extradited….I heard that Dexter and the other guys who were extradited won their case in the USVI, but I heard that because they were extradited, they have to be deported, but they (the government) don’t want them to come before the general elections, so they not coming home before the 13th of the month,” DeFreitas is reported to have said.

DeFreitas also said that based on the fact that the men won the case, it meant that there was nothing to convict the men, and based on that fact, the Gonsalves-led administration did not want them back in the country before the elections, which was the basis for the prime minister having the “bassa bassa down Leeward.”

“So pay attention to the development of the country where people want to dictate your life, waste money and treat us any old how,” he said.

According to Gonsalves, the comments defamed him and DeFreitas broadcast false statements, which in his opinion were likely to cause fear in the public.

“The falsehood and gibberish here is simply astounding,” Gonsalves told members of the media.

“First of all, there was no case in the US Virgin Islands, it was in the British Virgin Islands; secondly the extradition of Dexter Chance and two other gentlemen was done in the court,” he continued.

“I am the political head. I have absolutely no communication with the people in the BVI concerning any case with Dexter Chance.”

In fact, according to the Prime Minister, there was no case.

“The information is that the defence council asked the Magistrate to recuse herself,” and that the case was adjourned until January 2011.

The Prime Minister contended, however, that apart from the facts being wrong, “the sting in this that there are some citizens who won their case somewhere else, but I am using the office of the Prime Minister to prevent those citizens from being returned to their country.”

“If I were to do that, I would have misbehaved in public office, which is a common law offence carrying a penalty of one year imprisonment,” Gonsalves said, adding that he had nothing to do with such actions.

“But he (DeFreitas) broadcast it.”

“If action is to be taken, and I may well take action – civil action – I may consider it because it is a serious defamation on me,” the Prime Minister said.

“The only thing which could restrain me from not suing him is my father and his father were relatives, and were very close.”

“Sometimes when he takes liberty with me, that’s the only thing; but I may have to go in prayerful consideration because they are now overdoing it,” Gonsalves said.

According to a report in the Virgin Islands Platinum News, on November 4, BVI Senior Magistrate Valerie Stephens deferred her ruling to December 15 in relation to applications made by the two defence lawyers for her to recuse herself from the case involving Chance, also known as Dexter Michael, of Layou, Gareth Mc Dowall, of Calliaqua, and Carlos Sutherland, of Lowmans Windward.

The lawyers, in their application, had argued that their clients would not be able to have a fair trial if Stephens hears the trial. (DD)