Dominica Prime Minister to await court ruling on dual citizenship

The process is far from over.

Cananews

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit (right) and his Education Minister Petter St. Jean

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – High Court judge Gertel Thom Monday reserved judgment in the dual citizenship case involving Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Education Minister Petter St. Jean.

Leader of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) Ron Green and defeated candidate in the 2009 general election, Mathew Maynard, are asking the court to rule that Skerrit and  St.Jean were ineligible to contest the polls when they were nominated to contest the election.

Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who is representing the petitioners, in his final submission urged the court not to accept the defense of the respondents because their clients “made all reasonable steps to renounce their citizenship before nomination”.

The Trinidad-based attorney argued that if the judge accepts the defense of the respondents, “you would have presided over an unfair trial.”

During his two-hour submission, Mendes said the failure by both Skerrit and St Jean to respond to allegations that they possessed French passports is “undisputed evidence that they were holders of the passports”.

However Skerrit’s attorney, Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan argued that the allegations against the respondents were “frivolous.”

He said the case brought against the Prime Minister was based on statements made by UWP leader Edison James, but James statements were not factual.

He defended the respondents’ decision not to disclose their passports claiming that “they had a constitutional right no to do so”.

Justice Thom had previously ruled in favour of Skerrit and St. Jean regarding the disclosure of their passports.

As he emerged from the court building, Astaphan told reporters he was “very happy with the way it went.”

He said while he would await the judge’s ruling he was certain that the matter would end up before the Court of Appeal.

“The process is far from over, despite what happens with the judgment inevitably the matter is going to end up in the court of appeal,” he said, adding the evidence against his clients were weak.

“I have always maintained there was no evidential basis for the petitions.”

But attorney Geoffrey Letang, one of the lawyers representing the UWP said he too was confident because of the “overwhelming” evidence presented in the case.

The trial began on September 15 after the UWP filed petitions in the High Court claiming that Skerrit and St. Jean held dual citizenship.

CMC/2011

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