Courtroom frustration & a conversation with Mr Allen Chastanet
When I last reported we were hoping to report that the trial has started. It hasn’t.
At the beginning of November, the case came to court and - very sadly from my point of view- the prosecution appears not to have got all its ducks in a row, once again.
The pleas were not heard. My understanding is the reason that pleas weren't heard and the case didn't start was for two reasons:
Firstly, because the expert witness who has been asked now four or five times to come and explain to the judge whether one of the defendants has the capacity to plead, once again didn't put in a appearance. This meant that everything goes back to square one until this part of the proper judicial evidence is heard.
And, arising from that, there are some technical issues that have to be covered.
If this is the case, and I don't know because as usual no one from the Crown Prosecution Service or from St Lucia has talked to me about this, then once again the judges have had to step in to identify the shortcomings of the prosecution and defence teams.
The case was adjourned for further case management hearings until last Friday 24th November. Last Friday has come and gone. As of 27th November, I haven't heard anything, I hope to hear something soon.
There is some better news. Firstly, the Director of Public Prosecutions - Mr Daasrean Greene - has promised the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) an update on all the cases relating to British citizens in the St Lucia courts.
That's now well outstanding, I'm told it's five weeks late. Again it would be good to have that response.
In addition, I did have a phone call with the St Lucia Prime Minister, Mr Allen Chastanet, who very generously called me from his car on his way to the airport on 20th November. I was really appreciative of him taking the time out of his busy schedule to call me.
He majored on the investments he had made in the infrastructure, capacity and capability underpinning the St Lucia courts, which of course I welcome.
His view was that he can't interfere with the judicial systems, I completely agree. As a politician he mustn't interfere with judicial processes.
What I explained to him was my continuing frustration about lack of communication and my strong feelings about the competence issues. I don't understand why the trial has been delayed, no one can explain that to me, and my fears are that it is simply due to a breakdown in the way people do their jobs.
I'm looking forward to Mr Chastanet’s promised phone call later this week once he's received a brief from the DPP and colleagues. I really appreciate him promising me a phone call and I'm looking forward to hearing what he's got to say, what he's been able to learn.
I was also very pleased to be able to talk at a conference of FCO and Home Office leaders about how it feels to be the victim in a foreign country and the support and encouragement to the FCO can provide.
I was very pleased to be able to tell my story. I met with the minister Rory Stewart, who's in charge of consular affairs. He evidenced very clearly his own personal experience of repatriating the body of a friend from abroad and the problems and challenges that faced.
It really resonated with me and I thought there are others that understand what we're going through. They were sympathetic, they were supportive and that was a very good experience. I’m hopeful that I may be able to help further if that's what the FCO would like to do.
Finally, and still on the FCO, Samantha Elms who leads the murders and manslaughters team at the FCO is in St Lucia this week, talking to a range of concerned individuals. She's very well briefed on Roger’s case, so I'm optimistic that she will come back with some news on the ground.
As and when I hear from my attorney about the outcome of the case on the 24th I'll update you.
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