This afternoon Magistrate Hettie Mae Stuart heard final submissions from both parties in the case against 55 year old activist of the People’s United Party (PUP) Albert Vaughan, who faces a charge of loitering in a public place stemming from the events of August 4 when workers from Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) protested in front of City Hall over their job security. 41 of them were arrested and charged with a littering violation and illegally gathering in public. In front of the Queen Street Police Station, where Vaughan was acting as a reporter for Vibes Radio, the party radio organ, he was picked up after a confrontation with police. Last week attorney Kareem Musa submitted that his client did not have a case to answer and after the police’s response issued in writing on Monday, Musa offered a final rebuttal in court today. He told us afterward that police were trying to paper over inconsistencies in their own witnesses’ case.
“ Essentially, what the prosecutor was submitting, was that they’re weren’t material inconsistencies or discrepancies with the police evidence. The police has presented 2 officers, namely Mr. Broaster and Mr. Munnings. But we had brought out on a cross examination several material discrepancies and I think that is where the prosecution seems to be a little shaky. Because they brought a case to show that if there is discrepancies in a criminal trial, then you can still carry on after that – but not where there are material discrepancies such as this which actually goes to the heart and the elements of the offence of loitering. They were 2 main inconsistencies. One of the officers said that Albert Vaughn was making noise and the other officers said that he was making no noise. The other inconsistency is that one of the officers was saying that Albert Vaughn did not leave the scene and the other officer said that in fact he had left the scene. Which again confirms what we we’ve been saying from the get go. This man was not loitering. If you are the police and you are admitting he was not making noise and two he had left the scene, then he is not loitering because that’s is actually what the offence of loitering is.”
Musa also responded to the police’s charges that it was not established that Vaughan was representing a media house that Monday morning rather than a political party.
“What I think he was saying was that it did not come out in the police evidence, so far, that Mr. Vaughan was out there as a radio reporter. It did come out because the police they said that when they took him inside – now they never asked him, ‘What you were doing here?’ That was their first step as police. How do you go up to someone and assume they are loitering. You see a man out there with his camera and everything, the first thing you should ask is, What are you going out there. All the other media were out there but they picked on him . They singled him out because he is a political personality, so this is a clear political case, a petty, vindictive political case. Let’s all it for what it is. So, they just grabbed him, brought him in and charged him for loitering, but even in bringing him in, they stated in their statement, this man in a radio reporter. So they knew that all along and the police, P.C Broaster actually said, when he was cross-examined that he would have released him had he known he was reporting. Everybody else was reporting, but he never once choose to ask him the question ‘are you reporting out there?’ He can’t just assume and officers can’t be assuming these days. You have to properly investigate matters.”