Thursday 13 December, 2018

AG says all now clear for resumption of ‘death squad’ trials

Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo-Forte

Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo-Forte

The way is now clear for the so-called 'death squad' trials involving police personnel from the Clarendon Police Division to proceed.

This, after Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo-Forte, advised the court on Monday, that the issues between the Government and the attorneys representing police personnel in the matter, has been resolved.

The attorney general made the revelation when she appeared in the Home Circuit Court in downtown Kingston

Malahoo-Forte told Supreme Court Judge, Justice Glen Brown, that the matter that had become a sticking point in moving forward with the trial of police personnel charged with murder and wounding with intent, had been resolved following a meeting of the parties involved in the dispute.

The attorney general was in court just days after Justice Brown had threatened to throw out the cases against the policemen if the Government refused to pay the lawmen’s attorneys monies owed to them since 2017.

Last Wednesday, Justice Brown threatened to throw out the cases before him, insisting he has the authority to do so. He has insisted that the Government must pay the legal fees for the accused policemen.

His remark came after attorneys for the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) suggested that one of the accused cops, Corporal Kevin Adams, who has been in custody for four years, had considered getting a legal aid attorney.

Clearly annoyed by the suggestion, Justice Brown said: “I am not granting legal aid to a police officer. That would be an insult to the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force).”

Brown added that, “INDECOM is being paid to prosecute… the Government must pay counsel to defend the policemen.”

Corporal Adams is one of about 11 policemen from the Clarendon Police Division who are awaiting trial on charges of murder and wounding with intent. They were arrested and charged after an investigation by INDECOM in which it was alleged that they were responsible for several killings in the parish that were reported as civilian murders.

Two of the policemen, Corporal Roan Morrison and Constable Collis ‘Chucky’ Brown, were acquitted of murder in 2017.

Brown is still behind bars awaiting another trial.

Those trials had stalled because the attorneys, who had not been paid, had refused to represent the policemen in court.

"If the Government is holding hard end and nothing can get off the ground, I can do two things: I can set another trial date, or I can throw it out," Brown said before daring anyone to challenge his authority in relation to the matter.

"I can tell anybody. I have the power to do it. I have done nothing that anyone can take any disciplinary action against me," he stated.

Clearly peeved at Brown’s comments, Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck, was reported in the media to have upbraided the judge.

Chuck argued that the Government only offered to make a "contribution" to the cops' legal defence.

"For the judge to say that the case will be stopped because the Government has not paid is quite out of order and injudicious. The judge is speaking out of turn and out of order for making such comments," Chuck stated.

He reportedly referred the matter to the Chief Justice for possible sanctioning of Justice Brown.

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