Let justice roll down like waters

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The sun shone brilliantly, and the clouds appeared especially fluffy here in our fair State of Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday. Birds flapped their wings and preened excitedly, bursting forth in joyful song. It was as if Nature was in one accord with what was happening in the High Court – the dismissal of all the charges against the United Progressive Party (UPP) trio of Political Leader Harold Lovell, Wilmoth Daniel and Dr Jacqui Quinn. After his extremely thorough and clinical analysis of all that had been presented in his courtroom, Judge Colin Williams concluded that the trio had no cases to answer. And let all the people say, AMEN! Seems, the scripture is correct when it declares, “This matter is by the decree of the watchers . . . that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men . . . Indeed!

This was a day, long in coming, what with the interminable and inordinate delays lasting some six years. Talk about “Justice delayed is justice denied!” Even after the case was earlier thrown out by Magistrate Conliffe Clarke, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) decided in his infinite wisdom to appeal that decision and press on with what many considered to be a malicious and utterly spiteful political prosecution, designed to decapitate the active leadership of the UPP. Mercifully, it failed! Miserably! The miscreants from the pit of hell who hatched this diabolical scheme to neutralise the main opposition party must be writhing in anguish and frustration at the thwarting of their best laid plans. The best laid plans of mice!

Of course, this is the old playbook of the Antigua Labour Party, and we have seen the grade B script before. Who can forget the similarly odious prosecution of former Premier Sir George Walter and Donald Halstead on flimsy and scurrilous charges shortly after the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) lost power in 1976? That prosecution was designed to cripple the leadership of the opposition. It was a demoralising blow to the PLM, and much disillusionment gripped the ranks of the party. Thereafter, Birdism thrived in Antigua and Barbuda for twenty-eight long years, and we wandered, much like the Children of Israel, in the desert.

Bird had succeeded in destroying the good name and reputation of the leaders of the PLM. Much as he of a high place was seeking to destroy Political Leader Lovell, Dr Quinn and Wilmoth Daniel, they of unquestioned honesty and integrity. They who had no intent to appropriate the buses for their own personal use or benefit.  In the aftermath of the case, they have all spoken of the great damage to their reputations and their employment fortunes; they have spoken of the tarnishing of their good names, much as Iago declared in Shakespeare’s OTHELLO, Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he who filches from me my good name, robs me of that which not enriches him not, and makes me poor indeed.”

We suggest that this absolutely uninspiring and pathetic administration was attempting a redux of that tired movie. Those in high places were cynically seeking to scatter the forces arrayed against them so that they could extend their lease (leash) on political life. With this stunning reversal of their fortunes, they will have to revert to their coven to cook-up another witches brew for their next political witch hunt!  

As you can imagine, we are enormously proud of defense attorneys Anesta Weekes QC, Justin Simon QC, Dane Hamilton QC, Leon ‘Chaku’ Symister, Charlesworth Tabor, Sylvester Carrot and Sherfield Bowen, who mounted a spirited defense of the UPP trio. They were like pitbulls, conceding nothing, and making the poor prosecution out to be bumbling amateurs. The prosecutors from Montserrat should not have allowed themselves to be persuaded to take this weak case, this poorly-worded case with its sloppy investigation, and its partisan political agenda. They did themselves a disservice. The defense team is worthy of our heartiest congratulations!

Justice Colin Williams must also be singled out for high praise. He handled the proceedings beautifully, what with his excellent recall and his expert grasp of matters of law and fact. He appeared to be quite patient with the fumbling of the prosecution, and as the case wore on, this writer got the sense that he would be hard-pressed to find the hard, incontrovertible evidence that would warrant a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. His two-hour ruling on the no case submission by the defense was a clinical masterpiece that spoke to his steel-trap mind and thoughtfulness. He left no stone unturned. And as Political Leader Lovell shared, the dispassionate and evenhanded manner in which Justice Williams meted out justice, ought to give us confidence that our Justices here in the Caribbean can be fair and impartial, free from political pressure and interference. Lovell was again making a case for our embrace of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our apex Court.

Again, it was a great day for justice here in Antigua and Barbuda, and the smiles on the faces of many, said it all. It was a though the dark cloud that hung over our fair land for so long had been lifted, and all men and women of goodwill could breathe easy. Seems, the scales in the hand of Justitia, or Lady Justice, are not tipped in favour of the rich and powerful and the political directorate, much to the chagrin of those in high places. The good Lady is not weeping behind her blindfold, and her black robes indicate that Justice is still blind. This past Tuesday, Justice rolled down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” [Amos 5:24]

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