Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Editorial | Be frank about Les Green’s claims

Published:Thursday | August 18, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Paula Llewellyn, the director of public prosecutions (DPP), has never been shy in trumpeting the enormous powers and independence afforded her by the Jamaica Constitution. Indeed, Section 94 (6) makes it clear that in the exercise of his or her powers, the DPP "shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority".

Those powers include the right to institute, take over, and, critically, at Section 94 (3) (c) "to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaking by himself or any other person or authority". In the circumstance, it would make sense that the police, in the event of the investigation of a major case which they hope that the DPP will prosecute, would seek the concurrence of that office ahead of making an arrest.

After all, the police are investigators, not prosecuting attorneys. The latter is a service, for which, in big criminal matters, they rely primarily on the DPP. That, in part, is why many may find it surprising, and perhaps odd, that Ms Llewellyn would make heavy weather of the power of former assistant commissioner of police, Les Green - "if he was convinced that he had sufficient material to do so" - to arrest and charge a senior political figure for soliciting murder in 2011, in a case that was this week rehashed by the Miami Herald newspaper. The larger point is that Ms Llewellyn's office didn't believe, which the DPP made plain in her public statement on Tuesday, that Mr Green, whatever his views to the contrary, had an airtight case. They made that clear to Mr Green at the time.

Beyond the merits of Paula Llewellyn's legal judgement, and her robust thereof, there is another matter which goes to heart of the trust citizens can repose in their government and institutions of the State and their commitment to law and order, for which the administration and the police force will have to reassure people.

 

DISAPPEARANCE OF KEY WITNESSES

 

According to the DDP, in the aftermath of her office's initial concern about the credibility of the two witnesses on whom Mr Green's case relied, the police supplied "additional material ... taking into account consideration of our previous recommendations". But one of these potential witnesses, who had been in the witness protection programme, could not be found by the police. The other had also left Jamaica and his whereabouts were unknown.

There is, however, another interpretation of, or different context to these events, according to the Miami Herald's recounting of the story. One of the witness who was in the protection scheme abroad and was seeking relocation was, according to Mr Green, "told that the offer had not been approved by the national security ministry". He was nonetheless required to appear in court. He, instead, walked away and remained in hiding. The case, on the face of it, collapsed.

If that account of events is true, it would seem that the national security ministry needs to open its files and offer the public a credible explanation for that decision to remove any suspicion that its motive was political and an attempt by a government to protect one of its own. The police, too, have an obligation to give an update on the status of this case so as to dispel any perception that there has been a cover-up.