Coroner of the Eastern District, Magistrate Teddy St. Louis might be forced to issue bench warrants for a group of summoned jurors for the Oscar Bartholomew’s Inquest.
St. Louis hinted at that possibility on Monday as most of the jurors failed to show up at the St. David’s Magistrate’s Court for the matter, which is yet to start since it first came to the court last May.
The Coroner’s Inquest is to determine if a group of six Police Officers are culpable for the death of Bartholomew who is a Grenadian National that obtained Canadian citizenship.
The 39-year old Bartholomew who was visiting Grenada in December 2011 with his Canadian wife was allegedly beaten by Police Officers, 649 Edward Gibson, 675 Shaun Ganness, 237 Ruddy Felix, 748 Kenton Hazzard, and Rural Constable Wendell Sylvester while in custody at the St. David’s Police Station on December 26.
Bartholomew died at the St. George’s General Hospital the following day as a result of injuries to the head.
Relatives said the altercation occurred after he bear-hugged a plainclothes policewoman he had mistaken for a friend and she yelled, “Rape!”
Bartholomew lived in Toronto but was in his native Grenada to visit family with Cyr, his wife of 10 years.
One of the lawyers representing the Policemen, Anselm Clouden told THE NEW TODAY Newspaper that due to the absence of a significant number of jurors the court was unable to proceed with the inquest.
He said the five jurors who were present were not able to form a quorum.
A minimum of about ten jurors is needed to constitute a quorum. Nineteen jurors were summoned for the inquest.
This newspaper learnt that a number of witnesses including Police Officers were also absent.
According to Clouden, Magistrate St. Louis uttered displeasure with the manner in which his court was being treated.
The seasoned attorney-at-law cited the need for all concerned with the matter to demonstrate to the world, especially the Canadians that the rule of law is respected, and that there is an independence of the judiciary in Grenada.
The Coroner’s Inquest is now set for November 11.
Further summons were issued for the jurors and witnesses.
Clouden initially said the inquest could take up to eight weeks but it’s unclear if Monday’s setbacks will cause significant delays.
He stressed the need to proceed quickly given Canada’s interest in the case.
“Already there seems to be some inordinate delay in proceeding,” Clouden said Sunday in a phone interview from St. George’s.
“This process ought to be expedited because there are other interested parties looking in and we must give the world assurance that we are proceeding.”
The police officers were initially charged with manslaughter but the charges were quashed in March after a judge ruled the Coroner’s inquest must take precedence.
The judge also ordered the officers reinstated and paid back the wages they missed as a result of being suspended due to the charges. They had been suspended with half-pay while on bail.
The Coroner’s Act mandates an inquest when someone dies in a public facility, such as a prison.