St. George’s, December 14, 2012 – Legal appeals have stymied progress in the case against five Grenada police officers charged with the beating death of Oscar Bartholomew.
The Grenadian-Canadian was visiting his Caribbean homeland with his wife in December 2011 when the incident occurred.
“A year after Grenada grabbed international headlines for the beating death of Oscar Bartholomew, no one is closer to knowing why he was allegedly pummeled inside the St. David’s Police Station,’’ Caribupdate Weekly reported in its inaugural edition that hit the streets of Grenada Friday.
Police officers Kenton Hazzard, Wendell Sylvester, Edward Gibson, Shaun Ganness and Ruddy Felix were released on bail last January 6.
Bartholomew, 39, was taken unconscious from the station to the St. George’s General Hospital, where he died shortly after arriving on December 27.
Two autopsies were conducted on Bartholomew’s body. They discovered trauma to the skull and multiple injuries to the body.
There are two cases pending against the cops: one is civil in nature and the other is criminal.
“The state has taken the position that it intends to defend both matters to the hilt,’’ lawyer Derick Sylvester is quoted as saying. He is representing the Bartholomew family in the civil suit.
Sylvester said the family is seeking “general damages for wrongful death; and for compensation for the beneficiaries of the deceased that, obviously, include his wife and children.’’
The civil suit has been filed with the attorney general’s chambers.
“The attorney general sought to, and was successful, in applying to the court for an application to stay the civil proceedings, pending the outcome of the criminal matter,’’ said Sylvester.
“The crux of their argument is that if they were to tender a defense (in the civil matter) it would prejudice the criminal case. Of course, we disagreed with that. So, we’re going for leave to appeal the decision of the learned judge who would have granted a stay of the civil proceedings, because that was the same judge who would have granted the stay in the criminal matter.’’
In the criminal case, the police are facing possible penalties ranging from a fine to a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Their lawyers have filed judicial review proceedings, challenging certain sections of the Coroner’s Inquiry Act.
“Basically, they are indicating that the court should first embark upon a coroner’s inquiry because it was a death that occurred in a public place. I have been notified that they are awaiting a judgment in that matter,’’ Sylvester told Caribupdate Weekly.
The paper’s founders include veteran Grenadian journalists Hamlet Mark, a director of the Miami-based Caribupdate News Service, as president; and Lincoln Depradine as the Grenada chief editor.
“At the very beginning, the newspaper will be a Grenada edition; but there are forthcoming editions for Antigua, Dominica, St Kitts-Nevis, and St Maarten,’’ Caribupdate Weekly said in its editorial.
“As a weekly, our job is to provide the context and background to the many stories you would have heard about before we arrive on the streets.’’
The editorial described the 24-page Caribupdate Weekly as “an expansion of the Caribupdate news brand, which includes a radio news service that is broadcast on 26 stations throughout the Caribbean; and a television news service on seven stations’’.