Senior Counsel, Anthony Astaphan, has rebutted suggestions by Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton that the recent high-profile cases of alleged inappropriate behaviour with a minor should be tried outside of Dominica’s jurisdiction.
Linton made the suggestion after documents relating to the cases were allegedly leaked and would create pre-trial prejudice.
But Astaphan said on state-owned DBS Radio, that the idea is crazy because according to Dominica’s constitution, the persons on trial must be judged by a jury of their peers.
“I mean, who’s going to select the jurors overseas — the DPP, the Defence Counsel? On what basis are we going to select persons — by their surnames, their first name, by their last name? By what? And how do St. Lucians, or Vincentians, or Grenadians become our peers?” he asked. “Because the Constitutional Law requires us to be judged by our peers. And, secondly, you going to take the court out of Dominica and put it somewhere else?”
Astaphan referred to the notion as “crazy,” and said that the recent leaking of documents is not sufficient grounds to stop a trial on the premise of pre-trial prejudice, adding that Dominican jurors are apt for the task.
“It’s crazy…Jurors on the jury have sufficient common sense, decency, honesty, and [objectivity] to make a rational decision,” he stated. “But what I find quite shocking is that I have said repeatedly that what has transpired does not reach the threshold required for pre-trial prejudice to stop a trial.”
Meantime, Astaphan revealed his suspicion that members and supporters of the United Workers’ Party are responsible for the circulation of the legal documents in question. This, he believes, was done in an effort to force a member, allegedly linked to a case of inappropriate behaviour with a minor, to resign from his position.
“And that has been coming from the quarters and supporters of the United Workers Party because statements have been published on the internet, in a manner that is calculated to absolutely damage irreparably, the reputation of this young lady, who is already suffering, solely as a means of trying to force [defendant] to resign,” he stated. “That’s the consequence of a corrupt, dishonest political motive…”