St. John’s Antigua- Deputy Political Leader and Chairman of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Gaston Browne just barely averted a bench warrant being issued for his arrest after he showed up late for a scheduled court hearing.
Browne is jointly charged with five other ALP members, including Opposition Leader Lester Bird, Parliamentary Representative for St Peter Asot Michael, ALP candidate for St Paul Senator Paul “Chet” Greene, General Secretary for the party Mary Claire Hurst and Executive Member of the ALP Carlton Lake.
All six Antigua Labour Party members are before the court charged with inciting other persons to take part in a march in contravention of a permit dated February 11, 2011, granted on behalf of the ALP by Commissioner of Police Vere Browne. The march, which moved off from Michael’s Mount, was held on March 10.
When the matter was called in the St John’s Magistrates’ Court before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh yesterday, all the ALP members were present except for Browne, who arrived after the matter was adjourned and his fellow “comrades” had just exited the courtroom.
Chief Magistrate Walsh mentioned at least three times that she was willing to issue a bench warrant for Browne’s arrest.
Attorney-at-law Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who represents all the accused, told the court that the deputy political leader is always punctual and that there must be a very good reason why he is not present.
After Browne’s arrival, the court was informed that the ALP parliamentary representative’s tardiness was as a result of a heavy flow of traffic on the road.
Browne was told to be on time for the next scheduled court date on February 22, 2012.
When the matter was first brought before the court on Tuesday, August 30, only Browne and Greene showed up.
The police then admitted that they were the only two ALP members to personally be served their summonses. The others were not properly served. Browne was given the summonses for the four ALP members and he has no obligation to serve his counterparts.
Reports are that the ALP made application to the commissioner of police to hold the march and the designated route was agreed to and approval granted. It is alleged, however, that during the procession, marchers diverted from the approved route and proceeded on to a course that permission was not granted for them to use.