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Witter clarifies 'remarkable' statement

Published:Tuesday | March 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

PUBLIC DEFENDER Earl Witter has denied that his categorisation as "remarkable", the failure to lay criminal charges in the case of 16-year-old Vanessa Kirkland's killing, was in relation to the police.

The Gleaner on Saturday, following a press conference held by the public defender the previous day, had reported that Witter found it "remarkable" that no member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force was charged for involvement in the shooting death of the 16-year-old.

"The Gleaner report of the comments made by the public defender at the press conference the day before was seriously inaccurate," read a statement from the Office of the Public Defender yesterday.

The press conference was called to address the issue of use of force by members of the force.

Arrests of individuals

The public defender's office said yesterday that when Witter said it was "remarkable there were no arrests so far", he was specifically referring to arrests of individuals who were at the scene, given the allegations that the vehicle Kirkland was travelling in was involved in earlier robberies.

"What the public defender found remarkable was that none of these civilians had been arrested or charged or placed under police guard or declared 'persons of interest': all of the alleged occupants, not remaining in hospital (including the one discharged), remained in their communities and none had gone into hiding. These curious circumstances were sought to be explained away by "instructions" allegedly given by INDECOM (the Independent Commission of Investigations)," a release from Witter's office said.