The trial following the murder of Sean Luke
Posted: Thursday, April 6, 2006
An open letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Commissioner of Police, on the matter of the trial in the murder of Sean Luke.
From a concerned member of our turbulent society.
We already goofed.
In the same issue of the newspaper where the DPP sets out rules for the protection of the two teenagers accused in the above matter, we got pictures (multiple shots) of an angry crowd yelling for blood, wanting to see their faces; and are informed that the accused sat in the public gallery while waiting for their matter to be called.
This is scandalous.
Given the rage that people feel, it is a marvel indeed that no one rushed over and tried to strangle one of them with bare hands. The Express reported that the younger one was "smiling"- implying that this was no big thing, he thought nothing of it, it was amusing to him, and so on. Is not that snippet of news in itself incendiary? It seems to me that that violated the spirit of the intention of the DPP to protect the accused from vigilante and mob violence, in the Wild West manner that seems to operate on the streets of TnT, but which certainly is at odds with sound police procedure, and the judicial process.
And Mr. Commissioner, was there no one in the police service who could have anticipated this mob scene, and taken preventive action? Could not the court have been cleared before they came in, so that their matter could be promptly heard, and then have them removed from court?
Or was the spectacle designed the way it was to titivate the crowd just a little? Throw a sop to Cerberus as it were?
If it is one thing TnT knows well how to do, is to organize mas and parades. This was mas, and the crowd control procedures should have been in place before hand, in anticipation of the spectacle. Crowd control is always better as pre-emptive action. When once a crowd has gathered, and the media is out in full force, it is almost impossible, really dangerous, to try to control the crowd. The people's anger could then be vented on the police, the way a pit bull will attack anything when once it is roused enough, even turning on its trainer and owner.
Better planning is called for.
Next hearing date? Hold court at night if needed. Do not announce the date of the trial. That is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps police in responding to the alarm about the missing child was lacadaisical; they cannot, however, drop the ball the second time by exposing the accused to the possibility of mob violence. A closed court- with only the required parties present, is absolutely essential.
The country may be teetering on the edge of "people's justice". Neither the Police Service nor the offices of the Ministry of Legal Affaairs, can afford to have us cross this edge.
This is why I am taking, for me, the unprecedented step of writing on the same issue two days in a row, and sending copies of this piece to people whom I believe could get it to the parties in power, so that they could proactively do the right thing, and avoid the wrong things being done, through a lack of focus.
Having observed and read a lot about police behaviour in official situations, all educated people will know that police officers are not impartial all of the time. Every parent who is an officer must think at some time, "What if Sean Luke was my child?" It will only take such a moment for one to be careless enough with the prisoners, and others- the crowd -could rush in, and push the country over the edge.
Please take care that this does not happen.
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