Met witness not returning

A key witness in the upcoming criminal trial of a former MLA Lyndon Martin said last week that he would not show up for any part of that court proceeding, which is expected to start in early 2009.

‘I will not be returning to Grand Cayman to take part in any future hearings or investigations,’ John Evans wrote in an e-mail to the Caymanian Compass.

Mr. Evans said an editorial that appeared last week in an edition of the Cayman Net News was essentially the last straw.

‘The persistent and unrelenting personal attacks on me in the pages of the Cayman Net News represent a blatant example of ‘inhuman or degrading treatment’ (under the European Convention on Human Rights), which is within the power of the Cayman Islands authorities to stop,’ Mr. Evans wrote. ‘It is clear in this instance that pleas for action in this area have been deliberately obstructed.’

Mr. Evans had previously notified the Royal Cayman Islands Police of his intention to file a criminal libel complaint regarding previous statements in the Net News that accused him of committing illegal acts.

Net News publisher Desmond Seales declined to comment about the matter at the time that notification was given.

Mr. Evans and Mr. Martin were the former Net News employees who cooperated with RCIPS commanders in attempting to investigate corruption allegations against Mr. Seales and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis.

An independent investigative team from the UK said earlier this year that those allegations proved to be unfounded.

Witness not returning

The matter came to a head on 3 September, 2007 when Mr. Evans entered Mr. Seales’ private office in attempts to find evidence that Mr. Ennis and the newspaper publisher had exchanged confidential information that might have compromised police operations or even placed officers in danger.

Mr. Evans has admitted no such evidence was found.

Since that entry became public, various allegations have been made against Mr. Evans, including a statement that the former newsman had been involved in a ‘break-in’ and another statement, attributed to Mr. Seales which read: ‘…John Evans has forgotten he could be called into account for his illegal entry into my office…’

However, court documents obtained by the Caymanian Compass quote Chief Justice Anthony Smellie as saying there was ‘no breaking and entering’ at the publisher’s office. The judgment also stated that there was no evidence the entry occurred ‘for any unlawful purpose.’

Mr. Evans has never been arrested or charged with a crime in connection with the entry, and officers who looked into the case have said they had no intention of doing so.

‘I am being accused of committing a crime without any recourse to challenge that unfounded allegation,’ Mr. Evans said.

The senior investigating officer of the UK Metropolitan Police team now looking into allegations of misconduct at RCIPS has said the matter between Mr. Seales and Mr. Evans is an issue solely between those two gentlemen.

However, SIO Martin Bridger’s case against Mr. Martin…who has been charged with burglary in connection with a separate entry into Mr. Seales’ office…depends heavily on Mr. Evans’ testimony about the events which surrounded and led up to the 3 September 2007 entry.

Mr. Bridger has previously said he was confident Mr. Evans would return to give testimony. Mr. Bridger did not respond to requests for comment Friday, but assurances were given to the Compass that he would be speaking about the issue shortly.

Whether concerns about human rights violations would prevent a witness from returning to the Cayman Islands may prove important in the case of one of the senior police commanders involved in Mr. Bridger’s investigation.

Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was placed on required leave earlier this year and is under investigation by the UK Met team. He left the islands in April and returned to Scotland, where it’s believed he has remained.

Mr. Bridger most recently said that his team has not yet interviewed Mr. Kernohan, who according to Governor Stuart Jack, refused repeated requests to come back to Cayman this summer.

Mr. Kernohan has said he is under no obligation to return to Cayman while on required leave from the RCIPS. He has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

If the police commissioner and his attorneys consider it impossible for him to receive a fair trial in the Cayman Islands, assuming he is charged with a crime, its possible human rights conventions could allow Mr. Kernohan to legally remain in the UK.

According to Article 6 of the UK Human Rights Act (1999): ‘In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time…’