Queen’s Counsel Jerome Lynch claimed “a victory for common sense” yesterday after ten airport protesters charged in connection with the protest outside the House of Assembly were bound over to keep the peace for six months and released.
All ten defendants, including the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert, all opted for trials in the Supreme Court.
Co-defendant David Saltus, 57, entered a guilty plea during the court hearing yesterday, to a charge of assaulting a police officer with an umbrella. But the Director of Public Prosecutions, Larry Mussenden submitted a nolle prosequi, which essentially ended the Crown’s prosecution on all of the charges.
Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves, who ordered the defendants to keep the peace, warned that a breach of the order could reactivate the charges and a $100 fine. “I will expect that you will do all in your power to be on good behavior and not breach the peace over the next six months,” he said.
After the ruling one of the defendants told Bermuda Real that proceeding with a trial would have been “a total waste of the taxpayers money and the court’s time”.
While noting that he didn’t know how many witnesses the Crown would have called, he said: “We had at least 100 witnesses ready to testify on our behalf.”
Outside the court building, QC Jerome Lynch said: “Today is a victory for common sense.” He noted that the ruling did not carry an admission of guilt, and that the charges were 110 years old and more than likely had never been used before.
“It is better to sometimes ignore minor breaches of the law in the interest of allowing peaceful protest, which remains a constitutional and human right,” he added. But he said: “This has no impact on the misuse of pepper spray on demonstrators who await the outcome of an internal police inquiry with interest, but with little confidence.”
Also appearing with the union leader and Rev Tweed were Arnold Smith, Alafia Henry, Anthony Burgess, Chris Furbert Jr, Glen Simmons, Lily May Bulford, Neville Goddard and David Saltus.
Meanwhile, Sherman Hill, Antoine Minors, Ernest Trott and Dornielle Farrel who appeared in Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning were told to reappear on June 14th.
The case of Bermuda Public Services Union President Jason Hayward, the only defendant who opted for a trial in Magistrates’ Court is still pending. He is represented by lawyer Charles Richardson.
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