December 7, 2012
Date for coroner’s inquest into customs guard’s death still unknown

There is still no definite word as to when the coroner’s inquest into the death of customs guard Othneil Whyte will be held.{{more}}

However, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of National Security, said that the file has already been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams, but he has since made a request for more statements from the police.

“So, no file has gone on the matter to the Chief Magistrate for a coroner to be assigned,” Gonsalves said while responding to a question posed by Terrence Ollivierre, Representative for Southern Grenadines at the November 28 sitting of the House.

“I am hopeful that this will be done shortly,” he added.

Gonsalves further explained that under the revised laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines, a coroner’s inquest was legally required and will be conducted.

A coroner’s inquest is conducted in instances where a person dies in a sudden or violent or unnatural death, where there was no clear evidence that a particular individual or individuals may be directly criminally responsible, the prime minister explained.

He added that an inquest will determine the circumstances surrounding the person’s death and determine whether or not anybody is criminally culpable.

“There will be a coroner’s jury selected in the normal way and that it is the DPP who has the responsibility for sending his file to the Chief Magistrate,” Gonsalves said.

Whyte died back in June during a shoot-out between some Venezuelans and local police on Union Island.

Three of the nine foreigners on board the vessel were also killed in the shoot-out. In September, the DPP dropped all charges against the surviving Venezuelans.(DD)