By Shermain Bique-Charles
Securing technical assistance from London’s Scotland Yard to help with investigations into the brazen abduction and murder of Customs officer Nigel Christian has hit a snag.
Last week, government officials confirmed that they would be seeking assistance from two law enforcement agencies – London Metropolitan Police and the FBI – in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The FBI responded saying that they are ready and able to assist, however Scotland Yard is reportedly awaiting clearance from the UK government which is said to be perturbed by the fact Antigua and Barbuda still has the death penalty on its statute books.
That information was relayed to Observer by Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin, one of the men at the centre of talks with the two law enforcement agencies.
“They are very concerned about the death penalty and other matters relating thereto. They don’t support the death penalty. We had a very long talk and they told us they would get back to us through the High Commission of London,” Benjamin said.
He told Observer yesterday that official letters had been sent to Scotland Yard and the FBI last week and several verbal conversations have taken place over the past couple of days.
“Both of them have been contacted. The Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney and Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Green also spoke with them in my presence,” he confirmed.
Benjamin said once the British government grants Scotland Yard the permission required, they will arrive in Antigua and Barbuda, along with the FBI.
“All we are asking for is technical assistance in terms of forensics. As a matter of fact, the FBI contacted us before we could contact them,” Benjamin confessed.
Benjamin predicts that it could take a few days before an official response from Scotland Yard is received but he is confident that it will be favourable to the government’s request.
In the meantime, police spokesman Inspector Frankie Thomas said investigations are ongoing into Christian’s killing on July 10 – and no stones are being left unturned.
“The police would have interviewed a number of people with regards to the matter,” Thomas revealed.
Earlier on Friday, UPP Senator Damani called for evidence of the government’s request for international help in the investigations.
Benjamin said the government is working hard towards solving a vicious crime against a well-respected and hardworking citizen.
The AG insists that the appropriate authorities have been contacted and technical forensic assistance is forthcoming.
Christian, 44, was kidnapped from his McKinnons home by masked gunmen. His body was found with bullet wounds near New Winthorpes a short time later in an incident which has shocked the nation.
A reward of $50,000 is being offered for information leading to the capture of his killers.