Charges dropped for Cabbage Beach 10
Prosecutors have officially withdrawn all charges against 10 protestors who were arrested in 2016 for tearing down the entry fence to Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island.
The case has had 15 adjournments since its first began on March 9, 2016.
The adjournments were due in part to the virtual complainant, Alexander Roberts, who failed to appear in court since the initial accusations against the defendants.
Branville McCartney, attorney for the defendants, argued before Magistrate Ambrose Armbrister in court on Monday, that there should have been a warrant out for Roberts’ arrest after missing all of their court appearances.
“You are the fifth magistrate on this matter and you have given them three times grace,” McCartney argued, after Magistrate Armbrister ordered the court to give the prosecutors’ two witnesses 30 more minutes to appear in court, despite the fact that court was scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.
McCartney urged, “The only right thing for the court to do is to discharge the matter.”
In a press conference Monday afternoon, McCartney said, he plans to discuss the initiation of malicious prosecution in the matter.
McCartney maintained that there was no fairness involved in the case, considering there were a number of warrants out for the arrests of the defendants, due to travel and medical emergencies, while there were no warrants out for the arrest of Roberts, who had made no appearance in court without reason.
On March 1, 2016, all defendants were charged with destruction and disorderly conduct.
Protestors tore down the fence just hours after a statement was issued by government officials that said the access point for the popular Paradise Island beach would be closed.
Just after protestors were arrested, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who was then the leader of the opposition, marched with the defendants and publicly pledged to expunge the record of Cabbage Beach protestors. He said outside the Magistrate court, “These men will have no criminal records that will interfere with their advancement and progression in society,” he said.
“It will be wiped clean.”
McCartney, along with the defendants, told the press that they hadn’t heard from the prime minister since he made his promise.
Jairo Saunders, 25, said he would fight again if he had to.
“Most of the folks here have been victimized, beaten, dragged, locked up after going to court, warrants being left in the system, everything to scare us out,” Saunders said.
“I commend Branville McCartney for sticking with us. This our land, no more foreigners coming to take this land over.”