Eustace can’t recall asking for US assistance
September 9, 2011
Eustace can’t recall asking for US assistance

Did the New Democratic Party (NDP) have six witnesses to testify in the “beach meeting” slander case, which had been brought by the government against talk show host Elwardo “E.G.” Lynch?{{more}}

A leaked diplomatic cable suggests that they did.

The cable states that Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace contacted the United States Embassy in Barbados requesting protection for six police officers, who may have witnessed the meeting, which was alleged to have taken place between Minister of Housing Julian Francis, Assistant Commissioner of Police Lenroy Brewster and Anthony ‘Que Pasa’ Gellizeau.

The cable said that Eustace told Embassy officials that the NDP had “strong evidence” that the meeting took place, and that six members of the Special Services Unit (SSU) were willing to testify against Francis and Brewster.

According to the cable, Eustace requested help in the form of visas or asylum for the police officers.

When contacted on Wednesday, September 7, 2011, Eustace, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that he has no recollection of asking the US Embassy for assistance in protecting police officers.

“We discuss with the Embassy, crime and drug matters all the time,” said Eustace. “But I cannot remember any specific request on our part to provide any assistance via visas or asylum to anybody.”

He added: “That part of it, I can’t recall at all!”

The cable states that Eustace told Embassy officials that the SSU officers were willing to testify in the slander case that was made against Elwardo ‘E.G’ Lynch, but were afraid that they would lose their jobs and “possibly be in physical danger”.

“As far as I am concerned,” continued Eustace, “if I were to ask for assistance in that regard, that is not a crime. If I had to do something like that to protect people, I would do it!

The government has demonstrated time and time again that people who are involved often lose their positions when they take [a] certain stance.”

The slander case against Lynch, which was first heard in May 2010 was filed after the ‘New Times’ radio programme host said on air that Gellizeau, Francis and ACP Lenroy Brewster had a secret night meeting at Wallilabou beach between August 4 and 23, 2007.

Lynch stood accused of making false statements that could cause fear and alarm. The case was later discontinued.

The leaked cable further states that Eustace said the drug situation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “getting out of control”, and that the state is on its way to becoming a failed one.

“Every time officials come to St Vincent and the Grenadines, they not only meet with the government, they meet with the Opposition and other persons in the society,” said Eustace.

Although Eustace acknowledged that the cable erroneously states that he had been charged with slander along with Lynch, he said that he has confidence in the content of those that have been leaked so far.

“I really believe that most of them would be true,” he affirmed.

He did, however, point out that this does not bode well overall for the United States government, as a world player with numerous diplomatic ties.

“It’s raising a very serious national security issue for the United States because their interactions with other countries will certainly be affected…” warned Eustace.

“People will be much more guarded when they hold discussions with embassy officials. People will be less willing to come forward with information – especially in this present climate.”

The cable, which was authored by then US Ambassador to Barbados and the OECS Mary Ourisman, deemed Eustace’s concerns for the SSU officers’ safety as “exaggerated”.

It also states: “In a political atmosphere where Gonsalves’ administration has achieved widespread popularity, the NDP appears left with no other option than to attack the ruling government as corrupt and to somehow tie the… administration to the increasing drug-related violence on the island…

“If Eustace is somehow able to convince police officers to testify against Minister Francis and Deputy Commissioner Brewster, it would have a huge impact on the credibility of the Gonsalves’ administration and considerably weaken the government.”

The cable was created on December 21, 2007, and released on August 30, 2011. (JV)