Verlinda accused granted bail!

After much back and forth, the long-awaited judgment on the constitutional motion brought forward by Human Rights lawyer Martinus Francois on behalf of his client, Eugene St Romaine ended on Wednesday with Judge Francis Belle granting a $60,000 bail.
Judge Belle also referred the criminal case back to the High Court for trial. St Romaine has been held on remand for more than eight years awaiting the commencement of the trial for Verlinda Joseph’s murder. In the interim he remained at the Bordelais Correctional Facility.
After the hearing was adjourned, a depressed Martinus Francois, together with St Romaine’s two sisters and mother shared much disappointment with the judgment of the court. Francois says he plans to appeal the matter as soon as possible.
“The judge ordered the matter to the High Court for trial and one of the things I was asking is for the state to provide a DNA expert at the state’s expense. I have not read the judgment and I am very minded to appeal, I am not satisfied with that decision. This is too much in favour of the state. As soon as I get a copy of the judgment I will appeal the matter,” said Francois.
The Human Rights lawyer was not fearful to say the least in expressing his anger at the legal system in St Lucia. Francois, who stood in support of St Romaine’s family outside of the court room, says he was expecting a different outcome in the case.
“After eight years on remand we are going back to the High Court for trial again? How long is this going to take, another two years? I don’t think I can accept that. I was expecting the matter to be dismissed, thrown out and not go back to trial. The judge said he will get a fair trial but after a long time, I have to disagree with that. He cannot get a fair trial after such a long time and that is why I am going to appeal.”
An emotionally upset mother stood outside of the courthouse in disbelief of the outcome with the support of St Romaine’s two sisters. As the tears trickled down her cheek, the quiet and collective mother as she had portrayed moments before the hearing cried aloud saying: “How do they expect me to pay? We have been going up and down for more than eight years now and now we have to start all over again? After you keep him locked up for eight years without a trial and no evidence, now you are telling us we have to spend another God knows how long going up and down again!” she said exasperatedly.
St Romaine’s sister, Anna Stephen shared much anger and frustration with the outcome of the trial. Stephen, who was also expecting a different result says she has been attending many hearings and still there can be no definitive decision with regards to her brother’s future. She says it is more than enough time for the court to make a decision to either send her brother to prison or set him free.                 According to Stephen, this has caused much emotional unrest for her family and they need something to be done about the case.
“We have been going up and down from Vieux Fort to here and nothing is being done. They said they were waiting for a decision with Judge Belle and the other Judge here to make a decision and now they have sent it back to the High Court. Before when we asked for bail they did not want to give bail but now they are giving bail?
“Even if we pay the bail, the case would still drag so I just want this to be over. It has been too long. They said they have evidence that my brother did it, yet still he has spent eight years in prison and they have not had any trial to prove that my brother did it. If you have the evidence then go to trial, why drag it for another two years?” said Stephen.
She continues to say that if the state had enough evidence to convict St Romain then the matter would have been over a long time ago. According to Stephen, the lack of evidence and a mismatch of a bite impression should be enough to set her brother free.
“It’s already eight years, you still want more time to deal with the case to gather your evidence? What is the hold back, I want to know?”
Meanwhile, heated discussions by the media and the public over the last few days have prompted the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Victoria Charles-Clarke and Attorney General (AG), Raulston Glasgow to release a joint statement on the matter.
According to the statement, the delay in the case was brought on by the defendant. The statement reads: “In his case against the Government, Mr. St. Romaine asked the Court to bring his criminal trial to a halt because he alleges:
1.That there was an excessive delay in bringing him to trial.
2.He was entitled to the same number of expert witnesses as the State.”
The statement furthers says that the Court disagreed with St Romaine and denied his request to drop all charges against him.
“The court ruled that notwithstanding the length of time that has elapsed in bringing the matter to trial the case should not be dismissed. Rather, the Court ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should proceed with the criminal trial against Mr. St. Romaine. However, Mr. St. Romaine will be allowed a DNA expert to assist him in his defense.”
While the media has taken up this matter for public discussion, the DPP and AG have cautioned stating that it is a criminal offence to discuss matters pertaining to the case in public or to mislead.                 According to the statement, any such suggestions are mischievous and may amount to contempt of court.

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