The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is stepping up the pressure on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite over divergent comments they made regarding bail for people accused of murder.
Three BLP politicians who are also attorneys-at-law last night blasted Stuart and Brathwaite, with one, Ralph Thorne, QC, calling for the backs of both legislators.
Brathwaite recently provoked widespread criticism when he supported the Barbados Police Association’s call for the release on bail of Corporal Everton Gittens, who was being held on remand for murder.
Brathwaite said at the time he could not understand why the police constable was being held when another murder accused nicknamed Lord Evil had been granted bail.
His statement followed comments by Stuart early last month that he was “hit for six” when he learned that people charged with murder here was being granted bail.
“In small, highly personalized society, there is something blood curdling about knowing that somebody slaughtered somebody in your community and that just a few months later you go into the supermarket and you run into them. That is a challenge we have to face,” the Prime Minister said at the time.
After former Attorney General Dale Marshall had told a St Michael South Central Branch meeting at the BLP headquarters on Roebuck Street that Brathwaite ought to be fired, Thorne insisted the Stuart should go as well.
“I do not wish to join that call for his [Brathwaite’s] dismissal as if I am giving legitimacy to Stuart, but Stuart should be dismissed too because two weeks earlier he was doing the same thing.
“He was remarking on the work of the judiciary in a manner that was critical of the judiciary . . . And he is Prime Minister . . . that is an office of immense power,” Thorne said.
The Queen’s Counsel did not give the Attorney General a free pass, stating Brathwaite was out of place to intervene in matters that were actively before the court.
“His act offends constitutional rule in this country,” Thorne said of Brathwaite’s comment about bail.
“It is one of your fundamental rights that if you’re before the court, the outcome of that case, the decision, must only be influenced by law, and justice . . . . Within the Constitution of this country the richest man and poorest woman have equal rights in relation to the dispensation of law and justice”.
Noting that the Bail Act was amended in 2000 to allow for murder accused to be granted bail, Thorne said the Stuart administration was in a position to further amend the Act if the governing Democratic Labour Party legislators were unhappy.
“They have had and have the opportunity to go to the Parliament and meet their parliamentary mandate and to amend that law. If they feel so strongly about the issue of bail, take up the Bail Act and amend it,” the BLP candidate for Christ Church South stressed.
Attorney-at–law Arthur Holder, who will carry the BLP’s banner in St Michael Central in the next general election, spoke of the power of a prime minister.
He hinted that Stuart was pursuing an unnamed agenda when me made the statement.
“Remember that the Prime Minister is vested with a power to make certain appointments, and he knew why he said that,” Holder told BLP supporters.
On the Attorney General’s comment, Holder said: “It is strikingly strange that an Attorney General could make such an utterance – and whatever one wants to believe or not – in a matter of days subsequently that same matter came before a court of law and ended in a certain result.
“There is a perception in this country that something went wrong somewhere,” he said in reference to the granting of bail for the Gittens two days after the statement.