Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Lightbourne seeks advice on INDECOM

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Dalton Laing, Gleaner Writer

THE MINISTRY of Justice yesterday said it was seeking an opinion from Solicitor General Douglas Leys with regard to the powers of arrest of the commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM).

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and INDECOM have been at odds since last week, after INDECOM investigators arrested and charged police Corporal Malica Reid for the murder of Negril businessman Frederick 'Mickey' Hill.

Last Friday, Reid was taken before the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court where he was remanded during the morning session.

Hours later, however, he was freed on bail after his attorney indicated that the DPP had not yet ruled on the case and raised questions about INDECOM's authority to file the charge.

A statement from Lightbourne, which came by way of her communications adviser Kahmile Reid on Monday, said it was the intention of lawmakers to give the commission powers to lay charges against members of the security forces accused of wrongdoing.

However, in a release from the ministry yesterday, Lightbourne, who piloted the Independent Commission of Investigations Act in the Senate, said the statement made by Reid "was premature and was made without the appropriate consultation and should not be construed as the opinion of the minister of justice".

March 16 decision

Meanwhile, Senior Resident Magistrate Lyle Armstrong will decide on March 16 whether Reid was properly brought before the court.

Armstrong made the announcement yesterday when the case was heard in the Savanna-la-Mar Resident Magistrate's Court in Westmoreland.

Both INDECOM Commissioner Terrence Williams and Crown Counsel Carolyn Reid-Cameron made arguments before the judge.

Williams reiterated his argument in a brief interview with the media after the hearing.

"The ordinary citizen has a right to bring a proceeding to court unless the law prohibits it, and the law does not prohibit it in this case," Williams said.

Reid-Cameron said the policeman in question was not properly brought before the court.

"Our argument was the ventilation of the issues that arise at it relates to Mr. Reid being before the court," she said. "And the fact that he was brought there by irregular means, being that the DPP, as is mandated by law, has not ruled on a file instructing that he be charged and brought before the court."

rural@gleanerjm.com