No one can interfere with any case being looked at by DPP –PM
PRIME MINISTER Dr Ralph Gonsalves says neither he nor anyone else can interfere with any case that is being looked at by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sejilla Mc-Dowall.
“Some people have a profound misunderstanding about two things,” Gonsalves said at a press briefing at Cabinet Room last week Tuesday while noting that when someone is accused of a crime, that person is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and also to procedural fairness, due process.
“…and those two things are fundamental to the maintenance of the rule of law,” Gonsalves stressed. He said while persons are calling on him to get involved in the Ashelle Morgan/Cornelius John shooting incident, the law says the DPP, “…shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority’”.
On Tuesday April 13, 2021, John, a business man who lives at Diamond, was shot; he said he was also beaten and threatened.
John said that Government Senator Ashelle Morgan, was one of three persons present during the incident, but he does not know who shot him.
It is alleged that Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions (ADPP), Karim Nelson, is also a person of interest in the incident. He has taken leave from his job to allow for the investigation to proceed. A third man said to have been at the scene when John was shot, has still yet not been identified.
The PM said that a lawyer, in a written piece, said the country is on the way to becoming a failed state, suggesting that the PM should involve himself in an investigation and prosecution, but if he were to become involved in the incident, he would be breaking the law.
“I have nothing to do with that…these are not legal niceties,” the PM stressed, while noting that the presumption of innocence is the bedrock of a fair and just society and that an allegation must be examined by the police independently, then sent to the DPP.
Gonsalves said the DPP will look at the file and may give further instructions and the police can re-examine and send back the file.
He is asking that someone shows him, in a law book, where it says the PM can include himself in an investigation.
“I said in the beginning to wait, because some investigations take longer than others. But because Ashelle is a senator, she is not entitled to the presumption of innocence,” Gonsalves queried; while adding that a female lawyer can be constantly heard on radio saying what Morgan should be charged with, and that lawyer is not being chided by any of her colleagues at the active bar.
“…No one has the guts to get up and say, ‘you’re wrong because the investigation is ongoing’…that could be fair?” Gonsalves questioned.
He asked whether the leader of the opposition Dr. Godwin Friday, “wants to rewrite the constitution” when he suggested using a special prosecutor to do the case. “I can’t interfere with that. I am waiting like everybody else to see the two fundamental rights played out. That is to say, presumption of innocence, and then due process, procedural fairness.
“And the Commissioner [of Police]has to be fair to Ashelle Morgan, he has to be fair, and the investigators under him, they have to be fair to Assistant DPP Nelson, and have to be fair to Cornelius John.
“ And the DPP has to assess that in the light of the law, the evidence which comes before her, and she is guided by a prosecutorial code, which has been adopted,” Gonsalves stressed.
“And just in case somebody say, ‘Ralph, you may say that, what about you? You appoint the DPP.’ I don’t appoint the DPP,” Gonsalves said, noting that the DPP is appointed by the Governor General (GG) acting on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.