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Public needs to know status of shooting investigation – Dr Friday

Public needs to know status of shooting investigation – Dr Friday
DR GODWIN FRIDAY, president of the New Democratic Party (NDP)

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Opposition leader, Dr Godwin Friday is calling for the Commissioner of Police, Colin John, to let the public know the status of the investigation into the shooting matter of a Diamond resident, in which two high ranking public officials are said to be person of interest.

And if John or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) cannot do their jobs due to a conflict of interest, then Friday advises that they recuse themselves, and other persons be appointed to lead the investigation and any prosecution that might result from it.

Ashelle Morgan, Government Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House, and Karim Nelson, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions are two persons identified as persons of interest in the matter involving Diamond resident, Cornelius John.

The incident, which resulted in the businessman being shot in the leg, is alleged to have taken place on April 13 at his home.

The businessman also alleges that Morgan pointed a firearm at his head and threatened to shoot him in the mouth.

“This cannot be treated as a hush hush matter! What will people think? We know what they are thinking now.  They are thinking that not enough is being done to investigate and prosecute the matter, and they fear that not enough will be done in the future as well to ensure Mr John gets justice, and the people’s confidence in the criminal justice system and the rule of law is maintained or restored,” Friday said during a press conference on Tuesday morning.

He noted that a third person is said to have been on the scene of the incident, yet seven weeks have passed without that person being named publicly.

Friday also called for authorities to be transparent and that third person said to be involved in the matter be identified publicly.

The opposition leader proffered that justice either exists or it does not, and that it cannot be there is justice for some and not for others.

“That would still amount to injustice. In other words, when that exists, it amounts to a negation of justice. This means that the allegations of the shooting and beating of Mr. John and the failure thus far to have a vigorous and transparent investigation transcend the individuals mentioned in connection with the incident. It is a serious challenge to and for the criminal justice system in this country,” he said.

Friday added that confidence in the police and DPP are significantly important when it comes to investigating and meting out justice, and this confidence should not be undermined.

He noted that it “may be the situation here that the DPP and the COP are too close to those mentioned in the allegations as possible assailants to pursue the matter in a way that would inspire confidence in the general public that they will be able to conduct a full impartial investigation, and prosecution if it comes to that, in this case”.

In this case, then the opposition believes it necessary for them to recuse themselves in order for the matter to proceed.

It is reported that Nelson, the deputy DPP, has taken leave since the start of the investigation. 

But Morgan has not stepped aside from her parliamentary duties as Government Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. 

The opposition leader was made to withdraw from the May 11 sitting of Parliament where he protested Senator Morgan’s presence in the Assembly chambers.

He requested that Morgan withdraw or be made to withdraw by the Speaker of the House, Rochelle Forde.

The Speaker denied his request and after a heated face-off between the two, Friday and the other opposition parliamentarians left the Chambers.

The opposition leader said at Tuesday’s press conference that his side of the House will continue to oppose Morgan’s presence in the House if the investigation into the shooting incident is not resolved by the next sitting of Parliament.

“We’re still hoping, of course, that the good advice that we gave in the Parliament on the 11th will be followed, and our position is that the senator should not be in the Parliament until the investigation is concluded,” he said in response to a question posed by SEARCHLIGHT.

“We will continue to assert that position, and the specific measures that will be done depends on the circumstances of the time. Of course, I’m still hoping, because I want to get on with the business of the House that we will be able to do so without the distraction of having to deal with this matter.”

This, he said, can be dealt with by the Prime Minister, who can suspend the appointment of the senator until the matter is resolved.

Friday also noted that Morgan can also choose to take leave until the matter is concluded.