Home News by RegionAntigua News Magistrate Issues Bench Warrant for MP

Magistrate Issues Bench Warrant for MP

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A bench warrant has been issued for the arrest of St Peter Member of Parliament (MP) Asot Michael.

Michael did not show up for his scheduled court date yesterday and Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh issued the warrant for Michael, who is off island.

The MP is jointly charged with Opposition Leader Lester Bird, parliamentary representative for St John’s City West and Deputy Political Leader of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) Gaston Browne; ALP St Paul representative Paul “Chet” Greene; general secretary for the party Mary-Claire Hurst; and ALP executive member Carlton Lake, for inciting.

The six ALP members are alleged to have incited 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, who was present in court for the matter. The march was held on March 10 and moved off from Michael’s Mount.

Allegations are that the ALP applied to the police commissioner to stage the walk and the designated route was agreed to and approved by the top cop.

It is alleged that during the cavalcade, demonstrators took a different course from what was approved by the police.

Michael’s co-defendants were all present in court when the matter was called up.

Attorney John Fuller, who represents Michael, told the court that his client was off island with his ill mother.

Fuller said Michael should have returned to the island last weekend; however, doctors have put his mother on bed rest and he was therefore unable to make it back to Antigua.

Chief Magistrate Walsh inquired of Fuller why Michael did not inform the court of his travel plans prior to leaving the country and being cognizant of his court date.

Fuller presented the court with a letter from the doctor of Michael mother, which Walsh said has nothing to do with the MP and the case before the court.

Walsh informed Fuller that Michael telephoned her on the weekend and told her that he forgot his court date.

The magistrate, who seemed appalled that Michael would contact her personally, told the attorney that Michael blamed him (Fuller) for him (Michael) forgetting the trial date.

Fuller apologised to the court for Michael’s behaviour and promised that he would be present on the next occasion.

Chief Magistrate Walsh explained that she was issuing the warrant because Michael was present at court on the last occasion the matter came up, and was therefore aware of yesterday’s date.

Walsh said that the authorities at the airport will be notified of the existing warrant and added that the MP will be picked up when he lands in Antigua.

In order to prevent a similar occurrence with the other defendants, the chief magistrate said that a notification would be sent to the airport to prevent Bird, Browne, Greene, Hurst and Lake from leaving the country without prior approval from the court.

The new trial date is April 18. Attorney Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin represents the other defendants.

(Source http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?p=71788)



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