Sunday 21 July, 2019

Police Confirm Investigation into Ernest Hilaire

Police today, June 27, 2019, have confirmed an investigation is ongoing into a motor vehicle imported into Saint Lucia from England by legislator and member of parliament Ernest Hilaire.

The police hierarchy, which met with journalists at Chesterfield, was not forthcoming with information other than police are investigating the matter.

Police Commissioner Severin Moncherry, Deputy Commissioner Milton Desir and Assistant Commissioner in charge of Police Operations Wayne Charlery at first declined comment on whether there was an ongoing criminal investigation into Hilaire, and whether police had authorized a warrant to search the offices of the shipping company which cleared the vehicle from Customs and Excise in Saint Lucia.

The three gentlemen made it clear that they could not speak about the case. Moncherry said he returned to work yesterday and therefore was not fully briefed on the matter. “I expect to be briefed fully by Mr Desir who was holding on for me so I am not in a position to answer this question now,” he said. “I can confirm there is an ongoing investigation but as of this time I’m not prepared to go into the details of this matter,” he continued, noting that Hilaire is a legislator and a Member of Parliament and as such he must be careful how he treads with the matter.

The allegation has been a hot topic in the media aided by certain assertions by government that Hilaire’s claims that the vehicle was purchased by him using his own money were not all above board.

The question being asked is whether Saint Lucia’s political directorate is using the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to victimize Hilaire. That question is now at the centre of public discussions and a topic on several social media platforms with responses split along party lines.

Hilaire, who represents Castries South in parliament, says he has been a major target of the government which has accused him of allegedly stealing a state asset – the vehicle – one he said he purchased in England and brought to Saint Lucia at the end of his tenure as Saint Lucia’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

The allegation of Hilaire having in his possession a stolen state asset was made by the current High Commissioner Guy Mayers.

Hilaire has vehemently denied the allegation, but to no avail, as his denials have been met with action from various state bodies.

Aside from police announcing their participation into the matter, last week three investigators from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution made inquiries at the Ministry of Transport seeking documents related to the registration of the motor vehicle. Hilaire said he was informed that the investigators wanted to question any staff member who may have assisted in the registration process of the vehicle.

“The following day, I was also advised that police officers, armed with a search warrant, had visited the office of the shipper who had cleared the vehicle and my personal effects from England into Saint Lucia after I had demitted office as High Commissioner,” Hilaire said.

Hilaire, at a press conference today, June 27, 2019, said that it is the state that is trying to obtain his property, the motor vehicle, by deception.

He described the investigation into the vehicle he said he purchased with his own funds as victimization which has been going on for too long.

“It is time for the government to understand that they cannot proceed with wanton disregard for laws, the reputation of citizens, more so elected officials they do not like. That they cannot abuse the power which their offices bestowed upon them. That they cannot use the police and Customs as a political arm of the UWP. They will have to face the courts and account for their behaviour,” Hilaire said.

According to Hilaire, he has asked his lawyers to take all necessary legal action against persons, groups and authorities which seek to abuse their authority to tarnish and embarrass him.

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