As we go to press, we are informed by normally reliable sources, beleaguered police commissioner Vernon Francois has succumbed to official pressure and “retired in the public interest.” In return, the STAR has also been informed, for his cooperation Francois will receive a $5 million handshake and several other perks.
Taking over his office will be Severin Moncherry, a veteran with some 27 years under his police belt.
Moncherry’s substantive position is superintendent of police, although he has for the last six months or so been acting deputy police commissioner. The inside word is “he is not quite satisfied he is ready for the responsibilities associated with his new position, bearing in mind the extenuating circumstances now engulfing the force.”
Those “extenuating circumstances” have everything to do with the 2011 lead-up to the IMPACS investigation, the result of which has been before the DPP for several months without official comment.
According to Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, the IMPACS report alleges “willful blindness” on the part of then acting police commissioner Francois. Moreover, that the investigators had confirmed the existence of a death list that the PM claimed he had seen with his own eyes. Francois has claimed the contrary, that there never was a hit list.
Meanwhile, the acting commissioner Errol Alexander, who has been holding the fort since Francois was sent on accrued leave by the government several months ago, has been off-island a full week.
We have also been reliably informed that the Kenny Anthony government has offered at least two other leading police officers near-irresistible retirement packages but they have not yet accepted.
There has been widespread speculation, ever since the prime minister revealed “politicians, government officials and businessmen” were fingered by the IMPACS report, about the future of police commissioner Vernon Francois and other leaders of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Our source adds: “The plan was to go through the motions of advertising the position of police commissioner but no surprise if, once again, things should happen in reverse order. This is still Saint Lucia.”