Providenciales, 14 May 2015 – Political persecution, a rigged judicial system and a continued fight for justice and freedom against one of the world’s strongest empires; it sounds more like an epic battle about to be waged between two titans than a press release; but a press release it is from the former Minister of Lands and former South Caicos Member of Parliament, McAllister Hanchell. Hanchell issued a media statement yesterday following the dismissal of the appeal by eight TCI defendants at the Privy Council in London. The group was looking for judicial independence and a jury trial, which in their views is fair. Mr. Hanchell said he is disappointed in the dismissal and a system that seems determined to rob he and others of true justice.
I quote him, “It remains our position that these corruption cases are nothing more than a political witch-hunt that was carefully designed and orchestrated by the British establishment to destroy and discredit local politicians and their families and associates, while allowing wealthy white developers and other individuals who were implicated in the Commission of Inquiry and/or were previously charged, to pay their way in order to avoid justice.” Flaming words from the man many call, Piper, who reminded that a fact-finding mission by CARICOM concurs and he exposed that even keeping quality Queen’s Councils to defend those charged is impossible because fees are reportedly shirked. “…respected defense lawyers from the UK have withdrawn their services because they were not paid adequately or in a timely manner, and also because Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and her Special Investigation and Prosecution Team significantly increased the number of pages of evidence given to the defense lawyers, but the system has refused to increase the payment…”
Add to this, Mr. Hanchell explains that six months away from trial and there are over 500,000 pages of unused material which the SIPT has not yet disclosed, added to over 100,000 pages of new evidence presented. Magnetic Media was yesterday told the group will take the matter to the European Human Rights Court because, among other things they see the pay disparity as an infringement on equality. Hanchell is asking how can he and the other defendants can get a fair trial? Nonetheless, Hanchell says the group will continue to fight for justice and will continue to file challenges. “We have also since Monday filed an appeal to our earlier challenge to Justice Harrison on the basis that he has reached the retirement age of 70 and as prescribed by the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution it is therefore unconstitutional for him to be appointed at age 78 as a judge of the Turks and Caicos Supreme Court.”
McAllister Hanchell believes Justice Paul Harrison also called into question his ability to be impartial with public comments made on cases in Jamaica as he sits on the Jamaican Integrity Commission. Again I quote McAllister Hanchell, who said: “…it will be exceedingly difficult for Justice Harrison to judge us fairly and dispassionately, therefore, he should have done the honorable thing and removed himself from this case when we applied for him to do so.” Hanchell ended the statement with thanks to family, friends and well-wishers.
McAllister Hanchell and ten others are charged with government corruption following the 2009 Commission of Inquiry.