Late Thursday evening France’s ambassador issued what must certainly rank among the shortest communiqués ever released to the local press. Ironically, it concerned the most talked about matter of a French national who had been incarcerated at the Bordelais Correctional Facility while awaiting trial for the murder of a Saint Lucian named Lucas Francois four years ago. On January 14 this year, at a press conference convened at the Pointe Seraphine headquarters of Alliance Francaise by the Barbados-based British High Commissioner Victoria Dean, EU representative Mikael Barford and the Saint Lucia-based French ambassador Eric de La Moussaye, the last mentioned complained about this country’s “broken justice system.”
He added that even though the ambassadors’ main purpose was to discuss with the island’s prime minister matters related to his IMPACS investigation, the country he represented was especially concerned with the plight of one particular Bordelais inmate. It did not escape attendant journalists that although five other Frenchmen were incarcerated at the facility, France’s ambassador identified just one of them, coincidentally named Eric; Eric Sommer.
It didn’t take long for some of the journalists to uncover the fact that Sommer was no ordinary Frenchman. His connections extended to the highest levels of the French government. As is now common knowledge, this week the murder-accused was permitted to plead guilty to the lesser charge of “voluntary manslaughter” and sentenced to four years. Which coincided exactly with time already served. The perfect storm.
Of course the prime minister has often underscored the executive’s separation from the legislative and judicial arms of the state. With reference to the IMPACS report, the prime minister had delivered to the nation the following promise: “I will not allow the executive which I lead to transgress the province of the other two arms. I intend to fully continue respecting that sacred separation.”
The vital question now confronting Saint Lucians has less to do with the innocence or guilt of Eric Sommer than with whether this island’s prime minister was forced to eat his words and act in stark contradiction of his above-quoted statement on the evening of 20 August 2013.
As for the earlier mentioned press release, read aloud it sounds like nothing more than a man under pressure finally able to exhale: “After four years the Sommer case is closed. The trial which was anticipated by the French authorities—at the highest levels—was finally held and led to the release of Eric Sommer. Mr. Sommer left Saint Lucia that night.” (My emphasis)
Who could ask for anything more? Certainly not the French ambassador, his freed namesake or his local lawyer for the defense Mark Maragh. Maybe now the same mechanism that served Monsieur Sommer so well will do likewise for the dozens who’ve been for years languishing unnoticed at Bordelais!