Did PM tell London Times our cops are corrupt?
Last year’s unresolved high profile killing of hotelier-realtor Oliver Gobat continues to dump dog doo-doo on the already disfigured face of tourism-dependent, foreign-investment-starved Saint Lucia.
In the 14 January issue of the widely read Daily Mail the dead man’s parents, 75-year-old Theo Gobat and his wife Helen, are quoted as “insisting there is a probability corrupt police officials on the island of Saint Lucia could be involved in the brutal murder of their son Oliver, or are part of a cover-up to prevent his killers being caught.”
The Gobats also told the Mail about “possible collusion” between their son’s killers and local law enforcement, while also claiming “vital forensic evidence was destroyed in the hours after Oliver’s death nine months ago.”
The Gobats reportedly “speculated” their 30-year-old son was “ambushed after being forced to stop his car at a police barricade.”
At a press conference in Saint Lucia, attended by their legal advisor and House Speaker Peter Foster QC, the Gobats revealed they had employed the services of private investigators from the UK to look into the circumstances of their son’s death.
By the Mail’s account, Helen Gobat said: “There is a probability corrupt police officers were involved. Of course we do not have the proof; it is just an opinion. But we feel strongly that this is the case.
“When we spoke with the commissioner of police he said it was the ineptitude of the police that meant forensic evidence was lost.
“We feel it was corruption. It is well known that corruption is rife within the police force.”
Her husband supplied shocking support for his wife’s sentiments. According to the Mail, Theo Gobat revealed to the paper that “the prime minister has admitted to us that corruption is a problem. We do not know who we can trust.”
The Mail reported that “in an interview on November 2014 the prime minister admitted there were problems within the force.” Besides, “the US government had also expressed its own concerns about corruption and in 2013 suspended all aid to the local police.”
The Gobats made much of the fact that the police had removed their son’s burned-out vehicle mere hours after the crime was discovered, “with no real attempt to preserve the site for forensic analysis.”
Instead of it being taken away for forensic examination, they said, their son’s Range Rover was “taken to a police yard where it was left in the open.”
The paper noted “close friends of the murdered hotelier had volunteered that corruption played a part.”
The Mail’s own investigations had revealed “police involvement cannot be ruled out.”
Additionally: “Problems with a certain degree of police corruption have previously been acknowledged by government officials in Saint Lucia but complicity in the homicide of a prominent British citizen begs the assistance that only the British police can provide.”
The Mail states twice in its lengthy January 14 report that less than three months ago Saint Lucia’s prime minister had, with the authority of his office, admitted to the Times: “Of course there is corruption . . . on small islands like ours you are more vulnerable to corrupt influences.”
Included in the Mail’s story: “The US State Department has also highlighted the problems of the 1,000 strong police force. In August 2013 it suspended all aid to the police about a secret death squad operating within the police force.
“As many as twelve persons were killed by what US officials described as ‘an ad hoc task force within the police department.’ The suspicions remain that the death squad carried out the murders on behalf of local drug squads that wanted their rivals wiped out. An August 2013 statement said: ‘The Department of State has made a policy decision to withdraw training and material assistance to the Saint Lucia Police Force due to credible violations of human rights violations.’”
The Mail went on: “They [the Gobats] have not made their corruption statements lightly and realize there could be repercussions. They have had a meeting with a case officer responsible for the Caribbean who told them he had other murders of British citizens to consider. They have also been told that the British police will not be allowed to get involved in any investigation as Saint Lucia still has the death penalty on its statute books.”
Shockingly, Helen Gobat has said Prime Minister Kenny Anthony assured her that “it is inconceivable” the killers of Oliver Gobat would ever face the death penalty.
The Gobats reportedly complained local police refuse to discuss with them what progress they have made in their investigations. According to 67-year-old Helen Gobat, Police Commissioner Francois cited a lack of resources and last July sent a request for help to the British government.
Moreover, the family was paying for the services of an ex-cop and former member of the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, who told them: “This is a contract killing. This case is solvable; it is do-able and we’re going to keep fighting.”
Shortly after the incident on 25 April 2014, at a time when the police had not confirmed the identity of the charred remains from a burnt-out vehicle at Cap Estate, Saint Lucia’s prime minister attended a private memorial for Oliver Gobat at which he assured the grieving family that the police were on top of things and a resolution of the case was “imminent.”
He further promised the aggrieved “a little nugget of comfort.” And it was that “good progress is being made in the investigation of this heinous crime.”
He ended by thanking the family “for their poise, for their dignity, for their character, for their grace, for their honour, their strength and their courage.”
At time of writing there has been no reaction to the Mail’s devastating online story, at any rate, not from the prime minister who had promised to reveal in February 2014 the findings of a 2013 IMPACS investigation of murderous allegations against members of the local police force.
Commissioner Vernon Francois has been less reticent. In a public statement on Thursday evening he challenged the Gobats to provide evidence of police corruption specific “to this matter.”
Francois also denied “ineptitude” on the part of the police. He preferred to describe the decision to remove Oliver Gobat’s burned-out Range Rover to a police yard as “a judgment call by investigators at the crime scene.”
Said the commissioner: “They [the grieving, frustrated and disappointed Gobat family] should “proffer an apology to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force” and also “publicly retract their published allegations.”
The commissioner did not reference the several condemnatory statements of the force by Saint Lucia’s prime minister, including those reportedly made to the London Times.
Meanwhile, palpable silence surrounds the controversial conclusion of the inquest into the electrocution of Hannah Defoe after she stepped into a local hotel swimming pool.
Reportedly the coroner Robert Innocent concluded the inquest with a declaration of manslaughter—despite that in the circumstances such a finding is unconstitutional.
At time of writing the police say they have not received from the DPP’s office the usual notifications following local inquests.
Meanwhile, our several efforts at reaching officials at the attorney general’s office and the office of the DPP have all proved futile. As for the justice minister, he maintains his usual silence on both the matter of Hannah Defoe as well as the Mail’s explosive article on the unresolved homicide of Oliver Gobat!