Thursday, April 25, 2024

SVG opposition activists charged for ‘protesting’ outside Parliament

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Four opposition activists have been denied station bail on charges that they held an illegal public meeting outside Parliament on Thursday.

Luzette King, a retired nurse; her niece Adriana King, a 42-year-old teacher on suspension from the classroom; calypsonian Robert “Patches” Knights-King; and John Mofford were arrested outside the Parliament building, in Kingstown.

Lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste said she is acting for the quartet, each of whom has been charged with failing to comply with the instructions of Police Corporal Roycel Davis when instructed to disperse from “an unlawfully held public meeting which was held within 200 yards of the Court House building when the House of Assembly was sitting”, contrary to Section 10(3)(a) of the Public Order Act.

Bacchus-Baptiste said that initially, a fifth person, a woman, was also arrested but she was released without charge.

The lawyer noted that her clients were charged under the Public Order Act and accused of failing to disperse from a public meeting.

“I don’t know what public meeting they were having,” Bacchus-Baptiste told CMC News.

“They were at the courthouse apparently holding up placards. They were not holding a public meeting. They were there as is the right of every Vincentian.”
The lawyer added: “What is worse, on a petty thing like this, they have asked to keep them there overnight.”
“As I said, I don’t see the reason except it is vindictiveness to keep them overnight. Once they have charged them, they could give them bail or have someone sign bail for them,” she added.

Bacchus-Baptiste told CMC News the arrest of the activists was a “misuse of the resources of the state”.

She said she had seen a video of someone assaulting Luzette.

“She asked what she was being arrested for and she was thrown in a vehicle,” the lawyer said, adding that after the arrest, her client complained of feeling pain.

The charge against Adrianna comes even as she has been suspended from the classroom pending the outcome of another matter. She is charged that, on August 5, 2021, in Kingstown, she obstructed Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves while he was going to Parliament. That charge brought was a result of her alleged involvement in protests in Kingstown in July and August 2021.

Further, Adriana, Knights-King and Mofford were among eight people against whom Director of Public Prosecutions Sejilla Mc Dowall, in December 2021, withdrew two counts of being concerned in organizing a public procession without notifying the Commissioner of Police at least 24 hours before the procession, and two counts of knowingly taking part in a public procession/meeting in contravention of Section 5(2) of the Public Order Act, offences allegedly committed earlier in 2021.

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