Redhead, Christopher Stroude and Cecil Prime, after their
Photos courtesy Grenada Today
Judge orders immediate release of three jailed leaders
of Grenadas 1983 coup.
Remaining ten can go free within two years, judge rules.
All 13 originally sentenced to death in killings of PM
Maurice Bishop and ten others.
Coup led to US invasion to restore order and rescue American
HIGH COURT judge in Grenada ordered the immediate release
yesterday of three of 13 imprisoned leaders of the 1983
coup that led to US invasion of Grenada.
He said the remainder will serve less than two more years
All 13 were originally sentenced to death in 1986 for the
killings of former socialist leader Maurice Bishop, four
Cabinet members and six supporters.
Supreme Court judge Francis Bell said he showed leniency
because the defendants behaved well in prison and demonstrated
remorse by inviting the victims relatives to prison
so they could apologise in person.
dont accept that they are future risks to the society,
Some relatives of those killed in the coup on the island
protested the ruling, shouting Murders! Murderers!
as they stormed out of the courtroom.
Hundreds of spectators turned out for the week-long resentencing
mandated by a February ruling by the Privy Council, which
threw out the death sentences against the prisoners.
Three prisoners Lester Redhead, Christopher Stroude
and Cecil Primedeserved to go free as soon as possible
because they played a minor role in the coup, Bell said.
The judge did not address a request to immediately release
former deputy prime minister Bernard Coard, whose attorneys
argued he needs eye surgery.
Two other prisoners with health problemsJohn Ventour
and Colville McBarnettewere ordered to appear before
a review board later this year.
During the 1986 trial, prosecutors said Coard and other
hardline members of the Marxist government sent soldiers
to kill Bishop on October 19, 1983, considering him too
Six days after the killings, thousands of US troops stormed
the Caribbean island on a mission that President Ronald
Reagan said would restore order, protect American medical
students and prevent a build-up of Cuban military advisers
Four others convicted in 1986 were spared death sentences.
They included Coards wife, who was freed in 2000 to
undergo cancer treatment.
reaction to judges ruling
WAS mixed reaction in Grenada to yesterdays announcement
by re-sentencing Barbadian-born judge Justice Francis Belle
after seven days of presentations by prosecution and defence
Belle, who gave a briefing on what he accepted and disregarded
from both the submissions of both sides, sentenced Cecil
Prime, Christopher Stroude and Lester Goat Redhead
to 30 years with hard labour each.
The othersincluding Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin,
Ewart Layne and Leon Cornwall, John Entour and Colville
McBarnettewere sentenced to 40 years with hard labour.
In his 30-minute oral judgment, Belle took into account
the mens years of incarceration, as well as years
spent on remand.
In fact, it means that Prime, Stroude and Redhead have already
served their time. The other ten have about five more years
but they could be out within two years as the judge ordered
that three years be discounted from their sentences.
While relatives and friends of the victims shed tears of
frustration that the release of all 13 was imminent, Redheads
mother Theresa said, Today is a blessing! She
thanked God for the release of her youngest son.
Primes daughter was seen sitting by herself, shedding
tears of joy and relief.
PM Mitchell: Its a sad time
According to the Grenada Informer, Prime Minister Keith
Mitchell is reported to have stated upon learning of the
Courts decision that this was a sad time for Grenada.
For a few hours, with defence lawyers, police and security
officers making numerous trips into the prison, the fate
of the three seemed uncertain.
Then at approximately 4 pm, six hours after the court proceedings
began, the three men walked free.
Of the other tenBernard Coard, Hudson Austin, Liam
James, Ewart Layne, Leon Cornwall, John Ventour, Colville
McBarnette, Selwyn Strachan, David Bartholomew and Callistus
Bernardthere would be reviews of the sentencing of
Hudson Austin because of the assistance he gave in the rebuilding
of the Prison compound after Hurricane Ivan; John Ventour
and Colville McBarnette because they are afflicted with
assistance from The Grenada Informer