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Appeal Court issues warning to PM and other ABLP officials

Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira says the appellants have failed to appear in court for their matter for the 10th time since filing their appeal in 2010. Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira says the appellants have failed to appear in court for their matter for the 10th time since filing their appeal in 2010.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 29, CMC – The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal has adjourned to February next year a matter in which Prime Minister Gaston Browne and several leading members of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) are involved.

But the adjournment to February 27 has come with a warning that the matter will be thrown out if the appellants, who also include former prime minister Sir Lester Bird, are not present.

court-rulChief Justice Dame Janice Pereira said the appellants had failed to appear in court for their matter for the 10th time since filing their appeal in 2010.

The appellants – Browne, Bird, legislators Molwyn Joseph and  Mary Clare Hurst, the ABLP youth arm member Sharon Kentish as well as Jim Galloway and Vere Bird Jr had filed the appeal after being convicted and fined EC$1,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) each in December 2010. They were ordered to pay the fine within a week or serve nine months in jail after they were found guilty of disobeying the Public Order Act on May 4, 2009.

Galloway and Bird Jr have since died.

They had contended in the appeal that their conviction was a blow to democracy and freedom of expression and that Magistrate Ivan Walters was wrong to rule that they could not address a public rally without police permission.

The magistrate had also ruled that the seven could not rely on the argument that they were members of the then opposition ABLP since they were delinquent with membership dues.

When the matter was called on Friday, Justice Pereira demanded the attendance of the appellants adjourning the matter for a few hours.

But only Hurst was the only person present with excuses given for the continued absence of the others including Prime Minister Browne.

The Court of Appeal noted that not only have the appellants failed to attend court on the previous dates, but their lawyer Damien Benjamin who attended the last session in March has not filed submissions or met deadlines set for yesterday’s hearing.

The chief justice said she was prepare to dismiss the matter on Friday had it not been for the pleas of the  new lawyers, John Fuller and Rika Bird, and the support of Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong.

She also warned that this was their final adjournment, adding that the Court would not tolerate any form of disrespect.

  • Countries: Antigua_Barbuda