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Calypsonian charged with threatening to kill PM Gonsalves, family

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 2.16.10 PMFrom Jamaica Observer

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) – A New York based local calypsonian will re-appear in court on October 31 after he was released on EC$25,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) bail on charges of uttering seditious words and threatening to kill Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and members of his family.

But, Israel Bruce, the attorney for Paul Scrubb, who appeared before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne Matthias at the Serious Offences Court on Monday, says his client is innocent and is accusing the government of engaging in a witch-hunt.

Scrubb was arrested last Friday at the ET Joshua Airport as he was about to leave the island after a five week stay.

The calypsonian, who uses the stage name “I-Madd”, is accused of maliciously sending or uttering threats to kill Gonsalves between December 9 and 31 last year.

According to the charges the calypsonian said “Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also his whole damn family period”.

Scrubb was not required to plead when he appeared in court and the prosecution did not object to bail.

He will have to report to a police station on Mondays and Thursdays, surrender all travel documents and obtain the permission of the court to leave the country.

Speaking to reporters after the court hearing, Bruce said that his client is innocent of the charges.

“Mind you, the utterances, as alleged, were not made by this man; not by this man. But that is a legal hurdle which I will not address,” he said, adding that the government is trying to intimidate its critics overseas.

Bruce noted that Scrubb was arrested at the airport after spending five weeks in the country of his birth.

“What is exciting to note is that Mr Scrubb [was] in St Vincent for five weeks and on the very day he was about to board the …aircraft, he was taken from the airport terminal and he was taken to the Central Police Station, he was interviewed and then charged.”

He noted also that the prosecution was asking for three months to prepare its case given the fact that the charges were being brought seven months after the offences were allegedly committed.

Bruce said the prosecution of Scrubb is the government’s way of sending a message to Vincentians in the diaspora “wherever you are, do not say anything because when you come to St Vincent, we can use our powers of arrest and arrest you.”

He noted the implications of the court proceeding on Scrubb’s employment in the United States.

“This man has a job. You know what that means? By virtue of holding the request to hold him here for three months, his job goes into jeopardy. He loses that job. Nobody cares. And you’re asking him to stay here for three months while you investigate,” Bruce said, reminding journalists that the offences were allegedly committed in December 2015

“So you have between December and July. So, in seven months, you couldn’t have enough evidence to bring the charge, but you want three more months and in three months you will be able to do it.

“Now, let the ordinary man who is listening to this and hearing this come to one conclusion: the ultimate objective is scaremongering; to scare people like Paul Scrubb and the others. But for those who intend to succeed on scaremongering, they must get the message. It will not work. People in the diaspora will be resolved to speak about the issues in St. Vincent,” Bruce told reporters.

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