Hanging in the balance

Hanging in the balance

By: Nicole Best

Less than two years after the controversial death of Grenadian- Canadian citizen Oscar Bartholomew in December 2011, two cases arising out of the incident, are still sitting in limbo as legal luminaries in both the civil and criminal matters await court decisions.

Derick Sylvester, lawyer for Bartholomew’s family, in the civil case, told a local newspaper that he is waiting for a response from Justice Margaret Price-Finlay on whether he has to file new proceedings following the quashing of the criminal case in March 2013 or that the original case can be resumed.

“I recently filed documents with the court asking the judge who granted the stay to explain her order because in some respects it could be interpreted both ways.”

Sylvester said the documents he filed in the magistrate’s court last week, asked Justice Price-Finlay, to explain “whether or not on the face of her order, it was implicit that we have to go back to court to apply for the stay to be lifted or…it was automatic by Justice [Septimus] Rhudd’s ruling.”

“My position is that we do not have to”, said Sylvester, referring to the defense lawyers’ position that the civil matter has to be formally filed again. “Once the criminal matter is completed then the civil matter could be proceeded with.”

Justice Price-Finlay ordered a stay of the civil matter in 2012, pending the outcome of the criminal matter, brought before the court by Director of Public Prosecution, Christopher Nelson.

In March of this year, Justice Septimus Rhudd quashed the criminal proceedings and ordered the reinstatement of the five police officers. He cited that based on law, a Coroner’s Inquest should have been held before the proceedings began, thereby deeming the criminal charges premature.

But Nelson is refuting the judge’s orders, citing that according to the Constitution of Grenada, which is the supreme law (Section106), the office of the Director of Public Prosecution has the sole power and authority to effect criminal proceedings against anyone accused of a crime.

“I am alleging that the judge erred in law when he ruled that the criminal charges are premature,” Nelson said.

Quoting from the Constitution of Grenada, Nelson said “The DPP shall have power in any case in which he considers it desirable so to do, to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person, before any court, in respect of any offense, alleged to have been committed by that person.” Constitution of Grenada, Section 71 Subsection 2 (a)

Nelson added that his appeal of Justice Rhudd’s decision is also supported by Subsection 6 which states that “In the exercise of this function, the DPP shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.”

He is hoping that his appeal of the judge’s decision to quash the criminal case would be heard by the OECS Court of Appeal when it sits in Grenada in October of this year.

Meanwhile, he is also awaiting the decision of the local court, on his application for the reinstatement order given by Justice Rhudd for the five accused police officers to be stayed.

Constables Edward Gibson, Ruddy Felix, Kenton Hazzard, Wendell Sylvester, and Shaun Ganness were reinstated earlier this month, based on the Court’s order. But DPP Nelson is hopeful that his appeal would be heard soon and upheld; which would mean that the accused men would be made to vacate their positions again.

Oscar Bartholomew a resident of Canada died in hospital here on December 27th, 2011 – one day after he was allegedly beaten by police in the St. David’s Police Station for bear-hugging a female police officer, whom he thought was a friend. Bartholomew was at the time on vacation from Canada, with his wife Dolette Cyr Bartholomew.©

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