LALIT supports the demand made today to the President of the Republic to use his discretion under the prerogative of mercy, and for a Commission of Inquiry into the what happened on the day of the L’Amicale fire in 1999.
The police inquiry and the judicial process were both so flawed that a wrong verdict was clearly handed down. The four men convicted have spent 14 long years locked up for the vicious attack on the Casino, an attack that was clearly premeditated by other people. It is therefore appropriate for the President of the Republic under his general powers of the Prerogative of Mercy to use the specific powers given him under Section 21 of the Criminal Appeal Act to call for the case to be referred to a Court of Criminal Appeal. The four men should also then be eligible for bail.
The work of the team of lawyers co-ordinated by Rama Valayden to expose this instance of a gross miscarriage of justice and their demand for a Commission of Inquiry to know the truth deserves the support of all political parties.
LALIT also draws attention to some other positive aspects of the Inquiry conducted by this group of lawyers:
- The need for the police to be trained to stop narrowing down their investigation too early in an inquiry, thus going awry often.
- And, frequently related to this, the need for a change in the law of evidence and of criminal procedure so as to make “confessions”, unless corroborated, fairly useless to the police case. “Confessions”, in LALIT we maintain, should, if denied in Court, immediately be struck out as evidence. In ordinary English, a “confession” is something not only freely given, but maintained; it is not given and retracted.
We would go further and demand that, if a confession is shown to have been extracted under duress, threat, violence and/or torture, that this should be sufficient to cause the whole police case to collapse. This way, we will at the same time eradicate torture in the country, and also prevent prosecutions failing (as in the Michaella Harte case), as well as the wrong verdicts that they often provoke, and clearly did provoke in the Amicale case.
We have documented far too many cases of torture, and of “confessions” being made under unspeakable duress. In fact the scourge of forced “confessions” (and indeed forced false accusations against others) is one of the main concerns of the organization JUSTICE, Association Against Violence by Officers of the State, an organization our members helped to set up.
10 July 2013