Another delay in murder trial of five police officers

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jan 27, CMC – Five police officers, who are facing charges in relation to the death of a man in custody, are to re-appear in court in March after their lawyers were on Monday successful in getting an adjournment.

Attorney Joffre Letang, who is among the team of defence lawyers, said there were certain matters that had to be dealt with.

“You have heard of noncompliance of both sides in relation to previous court order and also there is a change of solicitor. So it is basically to get things in place and we move forward from there.

“I think we are getting there…we will reach a resolution very soon,” he said, adding “and this matter should proceed one way or the other”.

The five officers, whose names have not been disclosed, were detained after an autopsy was done on the body of Joshua Etienne, who had been arrested on August 4, last year for the alleged possession of ammunition.

Etienne’s body was found in his cell at a police station in Portsmouth, north of here, on August 5.

Defence attorneys have objected to having the charges read to the officers saying it was “unlawful” and “irregular”.

Attorney General Levi Peter, speaking after Monday’s court proceedings said “we intend to proceed in the manner that we have been proceeding or intend to proceed from the outset, which is that the charges against the accused persons should be read to them…and that the legal process will take its course.

“We have assiduously dealt with this matter from day one, including the charging of the suspects, the claimants in this matter are exercising their legal rights…we say we are a country of law and we respect the rule of law.

“Sometimes the rule of law is inconvenient …we can’t dispense of it…however frustrated we may be,” he said, adding “we were prepared to go with this matter if the court was ready to do so”.

The matter will now be heard on March 25-26.