PLP accuses FNM of continued political attack
Former Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday that he was shocked by the proceedings in a magistrate’s court yesterday that saw four defendants accused of fraud and money laundering brought before Chief Magistrate Joyann-Ferguson Pratt, but could not be arraigned because the prosecution was unable to provide the court with proper documentation, namely court dockets with a named complainant.
Former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley, Stefanie Collie, Christopher Symonette and Kylon Vincent, who were brought to court after 5:00 p.m., will spend the night in the Cable Beach Police Station as the magistrate did not have the jurisdiction to grant them bail.
In court, Ferguson-Pratt said in absence of a named complainant the defendants were not “properly before the court” and asked the prosecution to advise her on what basis the matter was before the court.
The police prosecutor ASP Barry Miller acknowledged that the defendants, in the absence of a named witness or complainant, could not be “technically before the courts”, accepting that in accordance with the Criminal Prosecute Code there must be a witness as it relates to any charge.
Christie, who sat in on the proceedings with his wife, Bernadette, said had he not observed the matter for himself he would have “vigorously denied and protested that we are not like that”.
“I had to come in here and see what is the most extraordinary set of circumstances at being ill-prepared and quite frankly, I am absolutely shocked,” he told reporters at the Nassau Street Court Complex.
In court, the defendants claimed they had not been fed while in police custody.
When the judge asked the prosecution why the defendants had not been provided meals, the prosecutor said that was news to him.
The court heard that Symonette was in a holding cell with two other people, but only two meals were provided and he was shared out.
The prosecutor read a written report which indicated that Collie was provided a meal at 1:45 p.m., but she denied this.
Reckley claimed she was confronted by a female police officer in her bedroom and was not permitted to get dressed properly before being taken into custody around 7:00 a.m.
She said she had to rush to put on a pair of sandals.
The prosecutor asked that the matter return to court at noon today, and advised that the defendants would be housed overnight at the Cable Beach Police Station.
The magistrate said she did not have the jurisdiction to grant bail and the time that the law allows for the defendants to be in police custody had no expired. She added that she did not plan to act “outside of her authority”.
She asked that the defendants be given a meal yesterday evening and this morning before being brought to court, insisting that being provided adequate food and access to any medical needs were “basic human rights”.
In a statement, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) said it was disgusted with reports about the treatment of the defendants charged “as part of the Free National Movement’s attack on the PLP”.
The PLP asserted that the defendants were deliberately taken to court after hours so that they could not apply to Supreme Court for bail and would have to spend the night in custody.
“In addition, the defendants were denied access to attorneys,” the PLP claimed.
“When Michelle Reckley was taken to the police station in Freeport, they brought her into the back door without telling her attorney where she was.
“She was not allowed to be properly clothed nor [was she allowed to] bring her medication.
“The court dockets have no complainants listed on the docket so the defendants do not know who their accusers are.
“Additionally, no meals were provided for the defendants and Michelle Reckley is referred to as a male instead of a female in the detention record.
“This is extrajudicial punishment.”
The PLP said the public servants, including the prosecution and police, should be aware that they are not “immune from personal suit” if it is found that they offended any law with regard to the treatment of defendants.
The PLP said there will be “a price to pay”.