Grenadian cops accused of beating death to reappear in court
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Wednesday January 4, 2012 – The five police officers charged with manslaughter in the beating death of a Toronto citizen are due to reappear in court Friday, after making a brief court appearance yesterday.
The matter was shifted to the Magistrate Court in the rural parish of St David where Oscar Bartholomew, 39, was reportedly beaten while in police custody.
Derick Sylvester, attorney for the victim’s wife Dolette, has appealed for calm.
“Allow the process to now take its course and try not to influence the process in any way,” he urged after protestors took to the streets.
The officers - Edward Gibson, Wendell Sylvester, Ruddy Felix, Shaun Ganness, and Kenton Hazzard - were meantime remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison.
They are expected to apply for bail when they next appear in court. The five could be jailed for up to 15 years if found guilty.
Police Superintendent Dunbar Belfon has also urged residents to be calm, adding: “The director of public prosecution, who handles the file, at the completion of the investigation of the police decided that the appropriate charge would be that of manslaughter.”
But Solomon Hypolite, a brother of Bartholomew's who lives in Ontario, Canada wants the officers to be charged with murder, according to CBC News Toronto.
“It's very upsetting and the more I think about it, the more senseless it is for me,” he was quoted as stating.
Anselm Clouden, the attorney for one of the accused yesterday called for the government to establish a Caribbean-Canadian Commission of Inquiry.
“We have to put a system in place where…when instances of this nature occur, there is a commission of inquiry set up to establish a protocol for policemen who have detainees or suspects in their custody,” he told the media.
The beating occurred after the Grenadian-born Bartholomew, who was vacationing in the Spice Isle with his wife, allegedly hugged a plainclothes female officer whom he mistook for an old friend.
He died at hospital a day after his subsequent arrest. He is due to be buried January 9.
Minister of Tourism Peter David has said that Grenada remains an “extremely safe destination’’ for visitors, despite the incident.
“This is a tragedy on all counts, especially for the Bartholomew family,’’ said Minister David, who is also Minister of Civil Aviation and Culture.
“Like all Grenadians, including all my colleagues in government, we would have preferred this not to have happened to anyone, particularly to a national who was visiting with his wife,’’ the minister added.
“But from the perspective of visitor safety, and in comparison to other tourist-dependent nations of the world, Grenada still is – and will continue to be – an extremely safe destination for travelers from around the world.’’ he said further.