The Court has moved hastily in completing the first stage of the incitement matter against the United Workers Party (UWP) political leader Dr. Thomson Fontaine.

This as the matter has been committed to the High Court for trial.

On April 23, 2022, Dr. Fontaine was arrested at the Douglas Charles airport on arrival in Dominica on a bench warrant issued by former Magistrate Asquith Riviere on November 22, 2018, following his failure to appear at two court hearings.

Consequently, the police preferred charges of incitement and obstruction of justice against Dr. Fontaine in connection to February 7, 2017, riot in Roseau.

On that day, the UWP held a meeting on Kennedy Avenue in Roseau, calling for Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's resignation. Afterwards, many businesses were vandalized in Roseau. Several opposition members were subsequently charged with inciting violence and obstructing justice.

Charges were brought against other opposition members, including former Prime Minister Edison James, former leader of the UWP Lennox Linton, former Deputy political leader of the UWP Joshua Francis, along with Nicholas George and former UWP Member of Parliament (now Speaker of the House of Assembly), Joseph Isaac.

While the matter against James, Francis, George, and Isaac has been adjourned sine die (without a set date for resumption), Linton and Dr. Fontaine are left to answer the charges.

Dr. Fontaine later appeared in Court on April 29, 2022, where $75,000.00 bail was granted to him. On May 9, the Court granted a variation of bail permitting him to travel to South Sudan, where he is currently employed as the Policy Advisor to that government.

One year later, on April 28, 2023, the Preliminary Inquiry into the case against Dr. Fontaine commenced. Then, the prosecutor, Trinidadian attorneys Queen's Counsel Israel Khan, assisted by his son Daniel Khan, informed the Court of their intent to proceed with the case through paper committal.

Consequently, during the committal process, the witnesses' statements and documentary evidence were tendered to the Court without the witnesses' having to testify at the Preliminary Inquiry.

Dr. Fontaine is expected to stand trial before a Judge and a jury should he plead not guilty to the indicted at the High Court.

Regarding the summary charge of obstruction of justice, which Dr. Fontaine pleaded not guilty to, a trial in this matter is expected to begin on December 15, 2023, at the Magistrate's Court.

The UWP's leader is represented by attorneys Cara Shillingford-Marsh and Tiyani Behanzin.

Meanwhile, similar charges preferred against the former political leader of the UWP, Lennox Linton, has yet to commence in Court.

Four Magistrates have since recused themselves from Linton's case, including Magistrate Michael Laudat, who presided over Dr. Fontaine's matter.

At Linton's last court appearance in April, the case was adjourned again to September 14, 2023.

-By Ronalda Luke