Mon | Nov 18, 2019

No ‘imitation’ cops - FID boss dismisses Wildman’s bid to throw out Ruel Reid case

Published:Wednesday | October 23, 2019 | 12:15 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Police officers in dialogue with Caribbean Maritime University President Professor Fritz Pinnock at his home moments before he was arrested earlier this month.
Police officers in dialogue with Caribbean Maritime University President Professor Fritz Pinnock at his home moments before he was arrested earlier this month.

Chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division (FID), Robin Sykes, has said that members of the Constabulary Financial Unit (CFU), comprising police personnel, arrested and charged former Education Minister Ruel Reid and his co-accused.

Sykes’ assertion yesterday contradicted declarations made hours earlier by attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman, who filed an application for judicial review on behalf of Reid and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock to have the criminal charges against them quashed.

“They (the charges) would have been laid by the Constabulary Financial Unit (CFU) attached to the FID, and they are a part of the C-TOC (Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime) Investigation Branch,” Sykes told The Gleaner yesterday. “Our police work is carried out by the Constabulary Financial Unit of the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force).”

Reid, his wife Sharen, their daughter Sharelle, as well as Pinnock and Brown’s Town Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence, were arrested and charged on October 9, following a yearlong corruption probe into the education ministry and CMU.

According to court documents obtained by The Gleaner, the men are contending that the FID was not empowered by law to bring the charges against them and, therefore, acted illegally.

They further argue that the FID was purely an investigative body and did not have the legal authority to bring charges against them or to obtain a fiat from the director of public prosecutions to prosecute them.

The accused are seeking number of declarations from the court, including one that the proceedings before Senior Parish Judge Vaughn Smith on October 10 in the Corporate Area Criminal Court be deemed illegal, null and void, and of no effect.

At a press conference at his St Andrew office yesterday afternoon, Wildman sought to discredit the case against his client, which he previously likened to “a big gun without bullets”.

“You would have heard when I said it was a like a big gun without a bullet. Well, now that one examines these charges in law, I would say that it is not a big gun without a bullet, it is nothing but an imitation gun. It lacks any legal life, it’s a nullity … . We are contending that these charges must be quashed by way of judicial review because they (FID) have exceeded their authority,” he said.

But a former prosecutor who requested anonymity told The Gleaner yesterday that she is certain that FID followed the prescribed protocol when the body arrested and charged the accused.

She said the police attached to the FID, being members of the JCF, are empowered by sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Constabulary Act, which details under what circumstances the police can arrest with or without a warrant.

The former prosecutor said that the actions of the FID and cooperating agencies should stand up to the scrutiny of a judicial review.

Meanwhile, evidence in the case against Reid and his co-accused thus far will be disclosed to the defence by the end of this month.

The five are scheduled to appear before the Corporate Area Criminal Court on January 23, 2020.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com