Wed | Aug 21, 2019

INDECOM attempts to arrest cop after court says it has no such powers

Published:Friday | March 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer

The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) this week attempted to arrest a policewoman accused of murder just days after the nation's second-highest court ruled that it had no such powers.

INDECOM's move was, however, blocked by the nation's chief prosecutor, Paula Llewellyn, whose office intervened and took over the case "out of an abundance of caution".

Nearly two weeks ago, according to law enforcement sources, INDECOM obtained a warrant signed by a justice of the peace to arrest Woman Constable Melissa White and laid two sets of information before the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court, charging her with murder and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

On Monday this week, a day before the case was scheduled to go before the court, sources claim that INDECOM contacted the police and requested that the warrant be executed on White to ensure that she was brought before the court to be formally charged by its investigators.

The Court of Appeal, in a two-to-one split decision handed down last Friday, ruled that INDECOM does not have the power to arrest, charge, or prosecute members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Law enforcement sources revealed that in light of the ruling, the police balked at the request from INDECOM and sought legal advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Commissioner of INDECOM Terrence Williams declined to comment for this story when he was contacted yesterday.

However, Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn confirmed that she had been contacted by the police and that she gave instructions for the case file compiled by INDECOM to be delivered to her office.

"We did the review, and we agreed with the recommen-dations that were made, and we instructed the BSI (Bureau of Special Investigations within the JCF) to make the arrest," she told The Gleaner.

Llewellyn acknowledged, too, that when the case came up in court on Tuesday, she asked presiding judge Maxine Ellis to disregard the charges filed against White by INDECOM and to proceed on the information laid by the police.

The chief prosecutor pointed out that her ruling and the charges filed by the police were based on the investigation conducted by INDECOM. "So they will continue to have primacy over the investigation," she insisted.

She suggested, too, that the manner in which the case was handled could serve as a template going forward in light of the Appeal Court ruling.

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