Pestaina Goes… Prevost Comes
Change comes to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
When the May 2013 Criminal Assizes kicks off at the High Court in Roseau next month, a new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will be arguing cases for the State, at least for the next three months in a temporary capacity. That is because the substantive holder of that post, Gene Pestaina, will demit office and Julien Prevost will be in the "hot seat" from May 1, 2013.
Thus Pestaina will effectively become the first person to constitutionally demit office as DPP in Dominica. For him, this has not been a "roller coaster ride" in a job guided by the Constitution.
"We don't gauge the performance of the office of the DPP based on how many convictions… some school of thought may want me to chart and give them percentages but our aim is not to weigh the case but to present the case and let the jury decide," Pestaina told the Sun.
Pestaina recalls years ago seeing a story in the newspaper entitled "Eight Love" referring to eight consecutive murder cases that the State had lost and "naturally although we are not in a competition it (the trend) had to stop and stop it did".
Pestaina was also severely criticised when he discontinued certain cases; among them the Sarah-Lyn Augustine murder case and that of United Workers Party (UWP) politicians who were charged with an alleged breach of the Public Order Act.
"A number of matters have not been resolved satisfactorily, I must say, and while I don't want to rehash all of those cases, the political case of the United Workers Worker Party I found that to be clearly a political issue and only members of the executive of the UWP were charged while there were many other persons present who did the same thing," he said.
He went on to explain that he was not satisfied that members of the UWP executive had come together and planned to demonstrate or orchestrated a demonstration.
"And so, I found that in the best interest of both parties that it should come to an end because we will have many such occurrences and where do we end? In the Corbette case, the matter is still an issue before the courts; in the Sarah-Lynn issue that was a tough one and if confronted again with such a situation, I would have done the same thing. Some people are saying that she is on Facebook speaking to persons outside Canada but I can assure the public that she is in a mental institution being cared for despite the fact that people are saying that she is downtown Toronto waving her hands and enjoying a nice time," the DPP said.
His decision, he told The SUN, was "based and guided by concrete psychiatric opinion from Dominica and overseas".
"As I prepare to demit office, I leave with no problems and I look forward to being on the other side," he said laughing. "There are a number of cases which I think we should have successfully brought to a conclusion. We have drug matters, not the trial of them but what obtains after, and I wish we could have gone in that in-depth before leaving but it's a slow process. I am and will be very much available to assist my successor in all the ways he wishes to in a very cooperative manner, come here regularly…I am not an enemy to this office, cannot be.
"Among the bad things is that we have been applying for books recent and current cases of material on the law. We have had none. I don't know what's happening; we have ordered the books, they are out there and defence counsel comes and shows it to us and we have had to use their own… We wish we would have been properly equipped. We apply for computers and this has been slow in coming; we need a lot of things - security cameras for the building, burglar bars, police escort, police sentry - we just need a lot of things. I hope my successor will be successful in getting those things instituted."