Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part III

The Events of November 18, 1973

Paragraph 122. - An Examination in Detail [Part 26] - - RICHMOND HILL PRISON - The visit of Hon. E.M. Gairy [Part C]

122. The Prime Minister, the Hon. E.M. Gairy, gave evidence about this incident. The record of the proceedings is as follows:

MR. KNIGHT:                                    The third incident in which the Commission wishes to have your evidence is in connection with an incident which was alleged to have taken place at the prisons.
PRIME MINISTER:                                   Yes, I happened to have gone to the prison. Among other things I spoke to the prisoners.
Q.                                    Was this on the 18th November?
A.                                   I should think so . . . It was.
Q.                                    It was a Sunday?
A.                                   It was a Sunday. I went up there and I spoke to them among other things. And I knowing that the Jewel members were whipping up the interest over the last few weeks about take over of government; and they were inviting people to come up to Seamoon - to go to Seamoon on that Sunday to take over the Government. And they had asked people to come to choose their representatives, and had preached blood shed. And the only way in which they can take over was by blood shed and they could not wait on Gairy to die a natural death. They could not wait on elections. I had a meeting with the police department some of the chief officers, senior officers to make a thorough search of all persons going to that meeting for ammunition particularly, for drugs and for explosives. And I thought that the police would have arrested a number of people, and I deny saying anything about six, I am no prophet, I couldn't know that six people would have been arrested. And I thought that the police would have arrested a number of people, a large number; and I felt that it was in the interest of Grenada to prepare the minds of the prisoners if these people came in there, to keep away from the Jewel members if they did come in there. So I did say that the Jewel members look down on you and wouldn't speak to you under ordinary circumstances; and that you must treat them in the same manner if they came here don't listen to what they had to say. And I said that conscious of the fact that members of the Jewel Movement had already tried to infiltrate the prisoners. Conscious of the fact also that the first rifles stolen from government was recovered from an ex senior prison officer, an ex senior prison officer Hudson Austin. Conscious of the fact also that one prison officer who was being suspended was a well known Jewel supporter, leader.
Q.                                    Can you give us the name of that particular prison officer?
A.                                   Daniel, he has been subsequently charged.
Q.                                    Simon Daniel?
A.                                   Simon Daniel, he has been recently charged for having explosives in his possession. And I knew that the Jewel members were trying to get the prisoners on their side. And my only motives in talking to them on that particular string because I talked to them on many things; but talking to them in that particular context was to avoid any contamination coming from the Jewel to them with respect to subversion.

Under cross-examination the following evidence was given:

PRIME MINISTER:                                   No, what I got was that you were going to take over on the 18th.
Q.                                    Now how did you know on the 18th that certain Jewel members would become inmates of Her Majesty's Prison.
A.                                   I said earlier that because of the preachings that were going on and the expressed desire to take over Government, it was my view that a number of the Jewel people would have been arrested, I mean perhaps, hundreds I thought.
Q.                                    From the Sunday the 18th of November?
A.                                   Yes, because if you attempted to take over a Government, the law enforcement officers would have to prevent you from taking over and in the process some of you would have been arrested, but I thought there would have been very many more. I never mentioned the number 'six'.
Q.                                    You thought there would have been more than six?
A.                                   I thought there would have been quite a few dozen people.
Q.                                    Tell me something Mr. Prime Minister. Your visit to Richmond Hill Prisons on that day, what was the motive behind it?
A.                                   On that particular day - I think I did say what I went there for - many things I went there for, but one of the main things was to tell the prisoners not to associate with any prisoners from the Jewel who were coming in.
Q.                                    So in fact you were anticipating them coming in??
A.                                   Of course, it was open that you people were going to take over Government on the 18th?.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q.                                                     I was asking you Mr. Prime Minister, I was suggesting to you that you anticipated the arrival of members of the New Jewel Movement at Richmond Hill Prison.
MR. CHAIRMAN:                                But he answered that.
PRIME MINISTER:                                I said yes. Many of them I expected.
Q.                                                     And on charges, I said, of ambushing Inspector Belmar and taking over Grenville police station.
A.                                I don't know about this ambushing. I know that the Jewel Movement made it quite clear before that they were taking over the Government.
Q.                                there's nothing wrong about that.
A.                                   And they were doing it not by the ballot box, and so the police were prepared and I thought that hundreds of you people would have been arrested. I didn't want the Jewel members to contaminate the prisoners as they have done with so many school children.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q.                                                     For what reason. I'm suggesting to you that your visit to the Prison and your whole system, your pattern, of choosing your so-called police aides is geared solely on the qualification of a criminal record.
A.                                   No, this is not true, as a matter of fact, I think evidence was given by your side that when I went there I said, 'treat them as they treat you, they shun you, they don't speak to you' - I think evidence was given on your side to corroborate, to support what I am saying. What I told them was that you people scorn them or shun them, something like that, and they should give you the same treatment. There was nothing like violence, and the witness who gave evidence gave evidence to the exact effect.
Q.                                                     In fact Mr. Prime Minister, your words were 'when you come out from Prison report to Mr. Roberts in your Ministry for being taken on as police aides. You remember that?
A.                                   I gave my statement there already. I gave it twice.
Q.                                                     I'm asking you if you remember that. We didn't get that one from you yet.
MR. CHAIRMAN:                                   We haven't got this - this is a new matter. Did you tell the prisoners that when they had finished their sentence and come out they should report to your Permanent Secretary's office to one Mr. Roberts, where they would get employment. Is that the question?
A.                                   I told them when they come out from prison two particular boys - they should come to see me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

PRIME MINISTER:                                                     I try to get jobs for them. I try to give them a start, give them a little financial help, give them some shirts or something like that, and start to get jobs for them.
Q.                                                     Is that what you do by your recruitment of them as police aides? Is that the reason behind it, or was it the reason of the maintenance of law and order? I'm lost slightly.
A.                                   Well what you should bear in mind is that I'm more concerned about stopping those people who believe that they can take over a Government by the bullet rather than trying to make prisoners police aides. I'm more concerned about the Jewel and their Subversion, and their bombs that they are making, and explosives and the buildings they are trying to blow up, and they have been blowing up. This I dedicate myself to wipe out completely.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Q.                                                     Alright. You had a meeting on the Sunday with your security people on the 18th of November in the morning?
A.                                   Yes.
Q.                                                     And you had a meeting with Mr. Belmar, Mr. James, Inspector DeSouze, Inspector Raymond and ASP Francis, the head of your CID. You had that meeting in the morning?
A.                                   I had a meeting in the morning with some of my officers.
Q.                                   Yes, indeed. And at that meeting it was brought to your attention that the leadership of NJM would be going to Grenville on that day.
A.                                   We discussed the fact that the New Jewel Movement had sworn to come back to Grenville on the 18th. That was done on the 4th of November, when they postponed for two weeks, one fortnight, so the 18th was the day, so the whole of Grenada knew that you, the Jewel was going to take over, starting with Mr. Belmar's police station on the 18th.
Q.                                                     Oh, that is where it was supposed to happen?
A.                                   Because Belmar was the one that everybody was picking on - you were going to pick at the police station in Grenville. The meeting two weeks before the 4th was held again in Grenville, I mean two miles from Grenville, Seamoon. Everything centered at Grenville, and you were to go back there because you couldn't make a move on the 4th, because our crowd preponderated your crowd.
Q.                                   Aha! But what I'm asking you - the police had information that we were going to Grenville on the 18th.
A.                                   Yes, the Jewel. You were going to take over.
Q.                                                     And that in fact your information disclosed that there was going to be a meeting at the DeLuxe Cinema at 3 p.m. Your information was to that effect?
A.                                   My information was, you were going to implement your oath to take over on the 18th. That decision was made on the 4th of November.
Q.                                   Just answer me if you had the information.
A.                                   I'd give you what is my information.
Q.                                                     I asked you if you had the information that the New Jewel Movement certainly the leadership of the New Jewel Movement would have been going to Grenville to the DeLuxe Cinema to hold a meeting at 3 p.m.
A.                                   I had information -
Q.                                   Did you have that information Sir?
A.                                   I'm giving you the information that I had in that context. I had information that the Jewel Movement, the members of the New Jewel Movement were going up to Grenville to take over the Government starting with the police station, as they had pledged to do two weeks previously.
Q.                                                     Is that a notorious fact?
A.                                   That's the information I had.
Q.                                   That's the information you had. And did you not have information that the leadership had to attend a meeting at 3 p.m. at the DeLuxe Cinema?
A.                                   This was mentioned vaguely on that same day.
Q.                                                     thank you very much. So that was mentioned vaguely on -
A.                                   That same day, that the people would assemble first at the Cinema in Grenville, for getting the necessary inciting talks and so on.
Q.                                   And that after that they would take over -.
A.                                   . . . you would carry out your pledge that you made on the 4th of November.

Back: Duffus 121      Next: Duffus 123       Duffus Contents     Home Page: Index