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Nov 27, 2014

D.P.P. Comments on Case of Murdered Panamanian Diplomat

Cheryl-Lynn Vidal

It is supreme irony that the law now, at least in this particular case, demands consultation with the D.P.P.  The memo and directive which resulted in the delayed arraignment for Wilser Echevarria have come under some fire from the D.P.P.’s Office, not because of any perceived slight, but because D.P.P. Vidal feels that the Police do need the guidance. On Wednesday, via phone, she told News Five that the entire situation is unfortunate for all concerned, including justice.

 

Via Phone: Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, Director of Public Prosecutions

“This is a very unfortunate situation. We have tried very hard to put systems in place so that we can assist the Police because we are ultimately the ones that are responsible for prosecutions. We have assigned counsel to every single precinct, every single formation so that they can give on the minute advice to Police so that when we step into Court at least we know that we have tried to put something together that will take justice forward. I am not certain of the reason that the Police have decided they should no longer seek advice from us. I am hearing talk about delay. I am not aware of where that came from because as soon as we receive statements from them we give them advice in relation to the matter. The only time we do not give a directive to charge is when the evidence simply does not support the charge. This is a very unfortunate circumstance that is not going to work in the favour of justice at all. Even though the conviction rate is not as low as is always said, this is going to impact on our ability to properly prosecute cases, because quite apart from just giving advice in relation to whether or not to charge someone at the earliest stage possible, we advise the Police as to the course of the investigation. We advise them for instance as to when an identification procedure is supposed to be carried out so what other evidence they are supposed to try to gather. We ensure that they preserve the evidence that we have available to us. We try our best to work hand in hand with them from the inception so that the end product is something that we feel comfortable with. It’s unfortunate that even with all of that sometimes when we go to court the evidence is not sufficient to convince a jury or a judge that they should convict the person who is in the dock, but at least we know that we have put everything into it and our job is to present the evidence and justice means that the evidence is heard and then the fact-finding tribunal pronounces on guilt or innocence. But it can’t be good for justice that we are going back to pre-2008 when Police just did what they wanted to do and then sent a file to us months after the fact. Sometimes it is the case that Police arrest and charge [persons when there is no evidence to substantiate the charge.”

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