(Excerpts of Dr. Friday’s Press Statement)
I want to address primarily the matter of the shooting and beating of Mr. Cornelius John and the allegations of the involvement of Senator Ms Ashelle Morgan and Assistant DPP, Mr Karim Nelson in it.
By now everyone in St. Vincent and the Grenadines knows about the shooting of Mr. Cornelius John. It is alleged that he was attacked in his home and shot in his leg and that three assailants were involved. It occurred on April 13, 2021. That was his unlucky day, it would appear. It is a serious matter! A very sad affair!
Two weeks ago, I addressed you on it. Then, I urged that there be a timely, full, and transparent investigation so that the truth will prevail. Many other have done likewise. But, to all appearances, nothing has been done to bring the matter to a just and timely conclusion. In fact, there has been a deafening silence from the police on the matter. Unbelievably, they have still not told us who the third alleged assailant was not. The circumstances surrounding the incident are such that the authorities ought to have known immediately and certainly should by now know who it is.
We must therefore conclude that the failure to tell the public the identity of the third person is a deliberate decision on the part of the authorities to keep the country in the dark about this aspect of the investigation. What else are they keeping us in the dark about? But surely, this matter cannot stay in the dark. Light must get in, because as the songwriter says, there is a crack in everything. I am determined to find them and to let the light in. Most people want that.
In this regard, I have continued to write letters to important people so that they know about our fears and concerns. As I have said before, I wrote to the Governor General and she has replied to me. Now, I must tell you that I have also written to important regional and international institutions, to let them know our situation.
In light of the extreme seriousness of the matter, I wrote to Ambassador, Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of Caricom. I have also written similarly to: H.E. Baroness Patricia Scotland Secretary-General, Commonwealth Secretariat; H.E. Antonio Guterres Secretary-General, United Nations; H.E. Luis Almagro Secretary-General, Organisation of American States; Dr. Didacus Jules Director-General, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean State; and Rt. Hon. Anthony Rota – MP President, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
I expect that the recipients will all respond to my letter. But, even if they do not, it is still important that I wrote because now we are certain that they know about the matter. And if our worst fears come to pass, they will not be able to say they did not know.
Guns and ammunition missing from Georgetown Police Station
It has been about three weeks now, the police told the public that guns and ammunition were missing from the Georgetown police station. The police did not say how many guns were missing, but there was information in the public that the number may be 4 or 5. They have also not said what type of guns were involved.
The police did not say how much ammunition was missing, but there is information in the public that it may be as much as one thousand (1000) rounds. What kind of ammunition? We still do not know because the police have not told us. The announcement about the missing guns and ammunition could not have come at a worse time.
It came at a time when there were reports in the media and talk on people’s lips of recent shootings resulting in death (as in the case of former national footballer Dwaine Sandy) or serious injury (as in the case of Cornelius John). There was, therefore, understandable heightened public concern over the announcement. That concern remains.
Instead of seeking to allay those feelings of concern and fear by providing information, the police have since the initial announcement remained silent.
No more information for the public. We know that officers from the Georgetown station have been transferred elsewhere. Is this response by the Commissioner of Police a case of too little too late? But we need answers. People need to know. How many guns are missing? How much ammunition is missing? When did the police find out they were missing? Did they go missing all at once or did they go missing over a period of time?
If they were taken over a period of time, then who was minding the store? Did someone go into the police station and take the guns and ammunition? If so, how were they able to avoid detection? The Georgetown police station is a large modern building. A police station is supposed to be a secure place. Therefore, it would have been very difficult if not impossible for an intruder to enter and leave with those weapons and not be detected in the process. But apparently, it was done. The sooner we get answers the better. And if the police cannot investigate it properly, then get someone who can.
COVID- 19 Pandemic Continues
It remains the biggest challenge in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The government has botched it. Most places in the world see things are improving, but here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we are getting worse.
I urge you to follow the familiar protocol measures to protect yourself and those around you against the coronavirus and to prevent its spread—wear a mask in public; social distance; wash or sanitize your hands regularly. Take it seriously. Inform yourself about vaccination from reputable sources and make the decision to vaccinate.
It is the safest and quickest way to get back to our normal lives.