( Real News Antigua ) The Police Force is being criticized for what some residents are describing as preferential treatment to certain people.
A source tells REAL News that two senior police officers reportedly were instrumental in an accused man being granted station bail for an indictable offence that, legally, has to be tried in the High Court.
There are some offences for which the Police can grant bail and for which no cash deposit is required. However, more serious offences, like rape – which the man is alleged to have committed – have to be taken before the court for a magistrate to grant bail, since the Police have no jurisdiction in these instances.
However, even more disturbing than the grant of station bail, the source tells REAL News, is that charges are yet to be filed with the court.
Reportedly, the young businessman was arrested and charged last week following investigations into the alleged incident, which supposedly occurred at his business place.
It is further alleged that, following the arrest, a call was placed to a senior police officer, who gave instructions for the young man to be given station bail.
Meanwhile, other reports say the man’s attorney went to court last Friday, May 5, to make inquiries about his client and the charges. However, the magistrate was unable to offer any information on the matter since the case has not been filed and, therefore, is not properly before the court.
Reportedly, the attorney went to the court again, on Monday, May 8, to inquire about about the case, and, this time, the accused man showed up, as well.
However, when Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh inquired of the police prosecutor, it was revealed that she had neither a case file nor copies of the charge.
As a result, the source tells REAL News it is unfair that senior police officers continue to exhibit such preferential treatment to some accused persons.
Apparently, while this man received station bail for a very serious offence, four other men who were charged with summary offences were not accorded the same consideration.
Reportedly, a young man who was found with a meat cleaver in his knapsack was kept in police custody over the weekend and taken before the court on Monday morning, May 8. He was charged with being armed with an offensive weapon.
In another matter, three men jointly charged for possession of marijuana, which carried a street value of just over $400, were not accorded station bail, either. They, too, were kept in custody over the weekend.
Only one man took the rap for the drug, while charges against the other two were withdrawn.
According to the source, this is the level of unfairness that exists in Antigua and Barbuda with the Police. He contends that officers are always willing to go against the law to help their friends, while advantage is routinely taken of the poor man.
This is why the public has no trust in the Police, the source says.
A young accountant tells our Newsroom she has “absolutely no confidence” in the ability of the Police “to be fair or professional.” She says her trust has been completely undermined by the “testimony” of a police officer who boasted, on Facebook, of his mentorship by, and close association with, the Prime Minister.
“After all that, who could expect him to do his work fairly and without favour?” she asks. “People like that can only take political directives.”