Evelina Baptiste
Evelina Baptiste

It is official. Chief Magistrate Evalina Baptiste will be confirmed in the post of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP); Steve Hyacinth, the acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs gave the Sun that assurance last week.

"I can confirm that Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ms. Evaline Baptiste to the post of DPP to replace Kirt Defratis with effect from November 1, 2013," Hyacinth told the SUN in a brief interview.

The post of DPP became vacant after Gene Pestaina, the substantive holder demitted office after retiring in July.

Baptiste applied for the post, was short-listed and interviewed but she did not find favour with the State; the officials opted instead for Guyana-born Defratis.

According to a well-placed source, "They had no choice but to lick their wounds and go back to Ms. Baptiste; she is very competent and has held that position before in an acting capacity."

While the search continued for a new DPP the State has had to invoke certain sections of the Constitution which makes provisions for the Attorney General (AG), who is a public officer, to hold the post of DPP. AG Levi Peter's instrument of appointment as DPP will end at the end of October 2013.

Earlier, Peter had announced that DeFreitas OBE QC who was scheduled to take up the post of DPP in November had declined citing "mischievous and untrue statements made about him." At a press conference a few weeks ago, Peter expressed his disappointment at and said the Government had a task of finding another person to fill that role. Peter said, in a written statement, that DeFreitas called comments about him from bloggers "dirty and mischief making."

"I am subjected to negative and untrue remarks even before I take up the post of DPP in Dominica all the decisions that I have taken over the years in all the countries I have served have been fair and in accordance with the evidence presented in police files before me. I could not and would not take any decision which is not supported by the evidence; it is unfortunate that some persons are prejudging what my decisions would be on matters in Dominica, even before I have taken up that appointment. This does not auger well for the administration of justice and it's for that reason that I have decided to withdraw from the appointment of the post of DPP," the Attorney General said DeFreitas wrote.

DeFreitas added that said had this been an appointment for any other post he would have simply ignored them for what they are- untrue, unfounded and malicious.

"However, because the decision to prosecute must be judiciously exercised, I am unable to overlook the publications as they seek to impugn my integrity and my fair and impartial decision making, even before I have taken up office," he said. "That would not be a good way for me to start service as the country's DPP."

He was the second Guyanese lawyer to turn down the post of Dominica's DPP. Early in 2013 Paula Gilford was offered the position but she withdrew allegedly over the details of her contract. Lawyer Julian Prevost held the post of Acting DPP for a few months while Pestaina was on pre-retirement leave.