“A victory for the people” Astaphan SC to appeal

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The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) has upheld the appeal of Antoine Defoe, Mervin John Baptiste, and Edingcot St. Valle.

This appeal concerns the decision of a high court judge to quash criminal complaints which were filed against members of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) after the 2014 General Elections for treating.

While lead counsel for the applicants Anthony Astaphan SC has expressed “surprised and disappointment” at the decision, Cara Shillingford lawyer for the appellants calls it ‘a victory for the people of Dominica.”

“In my opinion, this judgment is a victory for the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica insofar as it underscores the principle that ‘no one is above the law’. When charged with criminal complaints, ordinary Dominicans must attend court to answer their case.

“It would be unjust, illogical, and unacceptable for elected politicians to disregard court summons with impunity. I am therefore very happy with the court’s decision and believe that it will advance the causes of democracy, equality, and justice in the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Shillingford stated.

But Astaphan thinks otherwise and says they will appeal to the highest court, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ.

“I have to tell you that I am extremely surprised at the judgment…but I haven’t yet read it. But my initial reaction to the Prime Minister is that we must expedite an appeal to the CCJ as soon as possible because there was a dissenting judgment from Madame Justice Blenman.

“I am firmly of the view, even though I have not read it yet, that the majority is very, very likely wrong and needs to be subject to a review by the highest court of our land,” he said.

“So we are going to have to prepare the application for the leave for the appeal to be filed and we will also ask for a stay of proceedings and will ask the CCJ to expedite the hearing.

“It is unfortunate that we have had to deal with this, but that’s the system of the rule of law that we have. You win some and you lose some but when you lose you have to focus and have the matter heard.”

Astaphan is optimistic of success at the CCJ.  “I think our appeal will have considerable merit considering there was one dissenting judgment by the most senior member of the court. I am disappointed and very surprised but at the same time, that’s our system of justice and so we are going to the CCJ to see if my surprise and disappointment will be vindicated,” he stated.