Opposition invites attention from external organisations in John shooting matter
There is fear that unless regional and international attention is drawn to the investigations involving Senator Ashelle Morgan and Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Karim Nelson, the truth will remain concealed.
This much was stated by President of the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Leader of the Opposition Dr Godwin Friday in a letter written to regional and international institutions to highlight the investigations into the shooting of Diamond businessman, Cornelius John.
At a press conference on June 15, Friday pointed out that he was speaking nine weeks after the alleged April 13 incident wherein John claims that he was attacked on his property, beaten, shot and threatened by a trio. Named as alleged persons of interest in an ongoing investigation, are the Assistant DPP, and Morgan, a Senator and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. A third person said to have been present, remains unnamed.
“I have considered it myself and I have decided to write to important regional and international institutions to let them know about our situation here,” Friday stated.
Recipients of his correspondence, he noted, include the Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque;
Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Baroness Patricia Scotland QC; Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency António Guterres; Secretary General of the Organization of American States, His Excellency Luis Almagro; Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Didacus Jules; and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
“I expect that the recipients will all respond to my letter, but even if they do not, all of them, it is still important that I wrote, because now we are certain that they know about the matter, and if our worst fears come to pass, they will not be able to say that they didn’t know,” Friday pointed out.
He read the letter sent to Ambassador LaRocque, which is dated June 9.
“I wish to draw your attention to a developing crisis in St Vincent and the Grenadines. It involves a shooting incident that has stirred the conscience of our nation and fuelled serious doubts about the administration of justice and the rule of law in the country,” it begins.
“It is feared that unless regional and international attention is drawn to it, proper investigation of the matter will be stifled, the truth will remain concealed, and justice will be denied,” he stated.
Included in the letter is a background of the matter and its progression so far, and included are media articles, and hyperlinks to articles and videos.
They write, “…It is alleged that Mr John was kicked about his body, knocked to the ground and shot in his leg by Mr Karim Nelson. It is further alleged that Senator Morgan put a gun to Mr John’s face and threaten to shoot him if he mentioned her name to anyone.”
“…Mr Nelson has taken leave of absence from his position as Assistant DPP. However, Miss Ashelle Morgan, who was appointed a Senator, on the advice of the Prime Minister and can be removed from that position in a similar manner, has remained a member of the House of Assembly, and the Deputy Speaker,” they also penned.
The NDP also focused on comments they said were made on radio by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Press Secretary, Sehon Marshall.
“In our view, those comments were ill advised and premature and could well prejudice justice, especially as the matter was said to be still under police investigation,” the letter claims.
He informed correspondents about seeking the withdrawal or suspension of the Senator from the House of Assembly.
“No action was taken against Senator Morgan, however, for my efforts, I was suspended from the sitting of the House,” the Opposition Leader concluded.
Given that it has been weeks since the alleged incident and no arrest or detention has been made, “…This unusual delay has shaken public confidence in the ability of the Commissioner of Police, and the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate and prosecute this matter in a timely and transparent manner, and to ensure that justice is done,” the NDP also submits.
The letter asks that on behalf of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, “I rely on your commitment to good governance, the principles of justice, and the rule of law, and urge you to look into this matter.”
“I beg you to use the legal and moral authority of your office to inquire into this very serious matter, so as to ensure that the administration of justice runs its true course and the rule of law is respected in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” it also states.
Addressing those listening to the press conference, Friday also urged, “…all Vincentians of conscience to raise their voices. It is not enough to simply sit quietly or silently and say ‘well at least I am not supporting it’. It requires more from all of us as citizens, to protect our rights now, and into the future.”