Attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste has described last week Thursday hearing involving her client Luzette King, as a ‘travesty’, and says she is convinced that her client did not get justice.
King, a social activist, had appeared before a virtual court on Monday 8th February to answer to a charge of failing to present herself to an immigration officer at the Argyle International Airport on January 30, 2021. She had returned from the United States of which she is also a citizen.
She pleaded not guilty and was granted $2,000 bail with one surety. The matter was adjourned to Thursday, February 11, when the Court was expected to hear from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Roger Duncan, in relation to the issue of exemptions from quarantining at hotels.
King had applied for exemption from having to spend 14 days at a hotel, as required by COVID-19 protocols.
She gave reasons for her application as follows: that she could not afford to pay for the 14 days, as she was unemployed; that she lived along in a house which is secure, and where she could be safely quarantined; that her doctor had placed her on special dietary requirements which she would not be able to get at a hotel.
Bacchus-Baptiste told THE VINCENTIAN this week, that when King returned to the Virtual Court on Thursday, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne heard from Dr. Duncan, but what he said was not taken on oath,and she was not allowed to cross-examine him, despite her request at the hearing on February 8 to question him when the matter resumed on February 11.
Bacchus-Baptiste also said that she wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) asking that the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, be there so that she (Bacchus-Baptiste) could have the opportunity to question her.
But according to the lawyer, she got no response from the DPP and the CMO did not show up at the hearing, on February 11, as she was attending a news conference.
The lawyer said Dr. Duncan said there was a backlog in the processing of the exemption, and they had informed King of this.
But Bacchus-Baptiste said that according to her instructions, the Health Authorities did not respond to King’s application.
“I am convinced the Health Authorities are not handling exemptions transparently. It appears as if the process is without merit, and that they are playing politics,” Bacchus-Baptiste opined.
Meanwhile, King has been slapped with two additional charges. She is accused of not presenting her luggage as required, and failing to present herself to customs.
Those offences were also alleged to have been committed at the Argyle International Airport on January 30.
She has maintained her innocence on all charges, and hearing has been adjourned to March.
The bottom as per Bacchus-Baptiste is that her client now has to find money to pay the guest house where she is currently quarantined.