June 3 St. George's Grenada: The long awaited commission of inquiry
into allegations that this island's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell received a $500,000 bribery is due to re-commence June 13.
The inquiry which began last July headed by prominent Barbadian jurist
Richard Cheltenham QC was stopped after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan.
The allegation against Dr. Mitchell first surfaced when the Miami based news
letter Offshore Alert published an article outlining details on the allegation.
The article alleged that the Grenadian leader received $500,000 US in a briefcase
from former Grenadian diplomat Eric Resteiner at his home in Switzerland.
Editor of Offshore Alert has since indicated his willingness to co-operate
with the Commision of Inquiry but will not travel to Grenada. It is reported that the Commissioners will travel to Miami where
Marchant will give evidence.
Commissioner Cheltenham has indicated that Mr. Marchant is an important witness.
Dr. Mitchell denied that he ever received money in a briefcase but admitted
having received 12-15 thousand dollars from Resteiner which sum he said was for legitimate expenses incurred by a delegation
he headed to Europe and that the cabinet of Grenada had approved the trip.
Despite calls to investigate the allegation of bribery levelled against the
Prime Minister, advisor to the police and special prosecutor Jamaican Hugh Wildman said there was nothing to investigate.
But senior lawyers on this Caribbean island disagreed saying the isues for
investigation by police should be how much money was in fact given to the Prime Minister; for what purpose and whether the
sum was accounted for.
Pressure was brought upon the Keith Mitchell led administration for an investigation
by several prominent and influential organisations. The Chamber of Industry and commerce as well as the Conference of Churches
of Grenada called on the government to institute an investigation so that the facts surrounding the allegation can be known.
The Chamber in a letter to prime Minister wrote, "The failure to act with
the greatest transparency aand to bring quick closure to this issue can profoundly erode the fabric of governance as well
as confidencein the good office of Prime Minister with the corresponding negative impact on the profile of our country
as an investment center."
This is the second inquiry in which Dr. Mitchell is at the center. The first
inquiry was commissioned in March 1991 with Mr. Lindsay Worrell being the sole commissioner to investigate the Ministry of
Works which was then headed by Dr. Mitchell. The Commissioner noted, "Under my investigation at times I had to wonder if the
national interest was best served."
Meantime Secretary General of the opposition National Democratic Congress
(NDC) Peter David said that it is important to move expediously to terminate the inquiry to re-establish investor confidence
in the tri-island state.
David made reference to the expedious way an inquiry was conducted
in Trinidad which led to the arrest of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.