In last weekend’s STAR we broke the news that the United Kingdom police authorities had joined the US and suspended all assistance to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. While the US State Department’s suspension is based on allegations of human rights violations, the British cited Saint Lucia’s stubborn retention of the death penalty.
Helen Gobat, the mother of murdered 38-year-old Oliver Gobat, had revealed at a press conference two weeks ago that the Saint Lucia government had sought UK assistance in its investigations but was “blocked.” The STAR later confirmed the British government’s decision.
This week the BBC picked up the story after Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, called for Britain’s foreign office to intervene in the case. According to the BBC, Raab said the foreign secretary knew his constituent Ollie Gobat was brutally murdered in Saint Lucia, in an apparent assassination. Ollie was a citizen of three commonwealth countries: Saint Lucia, Australia and Great Britain.
“I’m very grateful officials are discussing assurances on the death penalty to allow UK police to support the investigation at Saint Lucia’s request,” Raab is quoted as saying in parliament this week. “Can I just ask the foreign secretary to pick up the phone to the Saint Lucian prime minister and help resolve the outstanding issues so we can get justice for Ollie and his family?”
Foreign office minister James Duddridge pointed out that he had written to the prime minister on 14 October to seek assurances that anyone convicted in the Gobat murder trial would not face the death penalty.
He added: “I will take up your suggestion of phoning the prime minister if an answer is not forthcoming.”
Surrey officials have pointed out that UK police departments do not have jurisdiction in other countries and can assist only on request. But requests for support are conditional.
“In countries where there is the death penalty any deployment would usually require assurances from the relevant authority that the death penalty will not be sought,” a police spokesperson told the BBC.
This week Ollie Gobat’s family doubled a reward for information leading to the capture of his killers. Initially the reward was EC$250,000 but it has since been raised to EC$500,000.
Ollie Gobat was born in Saint Lucia but grew up in the UK before returning to Saint Lucia to become involved in the hotel industry. His badly charred remains were discovered in his burned-out vehicle on April 25 in Cap Estate. There has been no related arrest.
Meanwhile, Kenny Anthony has repeatedly expressed his unwavering support for capital punishment! This week he declined a British journalist’s offer to comment on the matter.
The STAR also sought a comment through his acting press secretary Terry Finisterre who informed us that the prime minister would not be offering any statement on the matter at this time.