JG - Judge refuses to recuse himself
Judge refuses to recuse himself
published: Saturday June 23, 2007
ST GEORGE'S, Grenada (CMC):
Francis Belle, the Bar-bados-born judge presiding over the re-sentencing hearing for 13 men convicted of killing former prime minister Maurice Bishop, has refused to recuse himself from the case, despite admitting that he came into contact with the prisoners when he was younger.
The judge abruptly adjourned court Wednesday afternoon when an affidavit from businessman Nelson Louison and Barbadian lawyer Robert Clarke was bought to the attention of the prosecution.
In the affidavit which was sworn on June 20, 2007, Nelson said he knew for a fact that Justice Belle was involved, more than two decades ago, in arranging meetings between the leaders of the radical Grenada government and several senior political figures in the region. Clarke, in his letter, also said he had grave doubts about the judge.
"Mr. Francis Belle was a member of a serious political movement of Barbados. At the time of the murders of Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft, Unison Whiteman, Mr. Bayne and others, there was no condemnation by the movement in Barbados in which Mr. Francis Belle was involved," Clarke said in a letter that was sent to the chief registrar of the OECS Supreme Court and copied to all prime ministers in the region.
When the court resumed Thursday, Christopher Nelson, Director of Public Prosecutions, informed the judge that he had filed an appli-cation asking that he (Belle) consider recusing himself because of Nelson's affidavit and the concern expressed by Clarke.
In his argument, which lasted for one hour and 20 minutes, Nelson said that he made the application because the allegations in the letter were spreading rapidly and he had to defuse the rumours in the interest of justice.