Appeal Court upholds conviction of ALP Seven who breached the Public Order Act more than a decade ago

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Interior of an empty courtroom with gavel and sounding block on the desk.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal (ECSC) has upheld the convictions of seven Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) members, some of whom are now deceased, for breaching the Public Order Act.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne; former Prime Minister Lester Bird and his brother, Vere Bird Jr.; Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph; Senator Mary Claire Hurst, who is also the party’s general secretary; Jim Galloway; and Sharon Kentish, a then-youth arm member were charged by the Police for disobeying the Act on May 4, 2009, during a public march.

The matter went to trial over a year later before then-Chief Magistrate Ivan Walters, who – after hearing evidence by several people, including police officers – found the seven guilty.

Walters imposed a fine of EC$1,000 on each of the seven in December 2010.

They were ordered to pay the money within a week or serve nine months in prison.

However, dissatisfied with the outcome, the Labour Party Seven filed an appeal in 2010, claiming that their convictions were a blow to democracy and freedom of expression, and that Magistrate Walters had been wrong to rule that they could not address a public rally without police permission.

Walters had also ruled that the seven could not rely on the argument that they were members of the then-opposition Labour Party, since they were found to be delinquent with membership dues.

However, when Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong argued the case before the Court of Appeal, he noted that the Police had provided more than sufficient evidence on which the Chief Magistrate could have made the finding in relation to all of the accused.

Further, Armstrong told the Court that, upon reading the relevant legislation, the language was clear and unambiguous and without any uncertainty.

He said the arguments presented by Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, one of the lawyers representing the seven in the appeal, were, at best, devoid of any due consideration to the law and the evidence available to the court.

While Astaphan could argue about the merits that could and should have been, Armstrong said the laws and regulations, as applicable, did not permit any extrapolation other than the language that was clear and certain.

The Appeal tribunal included President Davidson Baptiste; Justice Mario Michel; and Acting Justice Reginald Amour, S.C., from Trinidad.

Armstrong was assisted by prosecutor Shannon Jones-Gittens, while Rika Bird was among the lawyers assisting Astaphan.

Meanwhile, in 2016, the appeal was almost dismissed when the appellants failed to show up for the matter.

The matter was called 10 times; and, on the last occasion, then-Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira warned that it would be thrown out if the appellants failed to show up on the February 27, 2017, date.

Three of the seven convicted – the Bird brothers and Galloway – have since died. It is not known, at this time, whether the other five will appeal the Court’s decision to the Privy Council or pay the $1,000-each fine.

Source: Real News

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14 COMMENTS

    • Mr Byam is the Jamaica Court any better?
      The Case brought against the DPP is 18 years old with a Ja DPP sitting for 12 years.

  1. Well well.
    Well Comrades you have a choice. And if it is me, it won’t be worth my time or effort. I’ll just pay the fees. But this just shows some of those voting against the CCJ again that our courts are doing their job independent of the executives. They like to accuse our judges of being bribed by the politicians when a judgment is not in their favor. Like Harold who still has to account for the busses scandal. This is not a criminal case. I would pay the fine and move on.

    Reply

    • Condoning ABLP corruption update @ From The Sideline:

      “… I would pay the fine and move on.”

      Of course you would boss 😁

      • Where is corruption in this? A simple misdemeanor. Not like what the picketers did during Covid when they were denied permission to gather on the street because of the State of Emergency, which was in effect, and the Covid Health concern. And yet they were encouraged by the UPP to break the law.

        • Where is your evidence that the picketers was encouraged to break the law. You so blinded by ablp that you would say anything to defend their wrong doings.

          • @Just Saying Again
            Unlike you I don’t just run my mouth on each and everything without having any knowledge whatsoever about it. That is why you people sound like real fools. Every straw you see you want to grab hold on. Just not to drown. But drowning you will eventually. Meinel Bank, Andrade Gutierrez, AOB ABIB, Stanford Financial Group. All happened under the UPP. And Lovell was the Lawer for Meinel Bank. Which at first, he tried to deny, until the PM published some checks that were issued to him. So far, my understanding is that FTX did have their head office here, but thanks to our independent overseers they never issued them a license to do trading here. Therefore, there is no exposure here. But the Bahamas did issue them a license to trade. So that is where the exposure lies. But as usual you guys just like to run your mouth and make it a political issue. Just check the John Ashe scandal. That was corrupt all the way to the top of the UPP. Were it not for Gaston they would be in the USA in jail today.

          • You have the nerve to ask when the TV cameras and the reporting from Jaqui on her FB page set it all. And guess what, Lawyer Chaku offered them FREE Legal representation. I’m not sure if Charles Tabor also did.

        • @Sideline… Go comment on the FTX debacle. Another financial mess that your “god” and his cohorts has put Antigua in. Or did you not see that story. USEFUL IDIOT

  2. the court belong to Gaston and the ABLP whether in government or opposition. they can do whatsoever they want and get away with it but then harass others through frivolous litigation like the bus case.

    they should send dem all to jail with hard labour

  3. Our court system is a joke and a joke all over again and again. The years they take makes no sense . That is why many convicted murders get away . When they go to Privy council the always rule against because of the length of time.
    During the UPP administration the APLP used the delay tactic and appeal several corrupt charges

  4. @Just Saying Again
    Unlike you I don’t just run my mouth on each and everything without having any knowledge whatsoever about it. That is why you people sound like real fools. Every straw you see you want to grab hold on. Just not to drown. But drowning you will eventually. Meinel Bank, Andrade Gutierrez, AOB ABIB, Stanford Financial Group. All happened under the UPP. And Lovell was the Lawer for Meinel Bank. Which at first, he tried to deny, until the PM published some checks that were issued to him. So far, my understanding is that FTX did have their head office here, but thanks to our independent overseers they never issued them a license to do trading here. Therefore, there is no exposure here. But the Bahamas did issue them a license to trade. So that is where the exposure lies. But as usual you guys just like to run your mouth and make it a political issue. Just check the John Ashe scandal. That was corrupt all the way to the top of the UPP. Were it not for Gaston they would be in the USA in jail today. ………

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