The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard was on Wednesday evening locked in discussions with the police on whether or not sedition charge/s should be laid against Public Services’ Association (PSA) president Watson Duke.
This was revealed by one of Duke’s attorneys, John Heath, during a telephone interview with Guardian Media last night. Duke is also represented by SC Gilbert Peterson.
Heath said if charge/s are to be laid on his client it would hinge on statements he made on November 16, 2018.
Reacting to job layoffs at TSTT and a statement by the Communication Workers Union that job cuts could also be expected at T&TEC and WASA, Duke said then: “We must be prepared to die, folks. You know why? This is your belief, this is your family, and I am sending the message clear, let Rowley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are prepared to die and the morgue would be picking up people.”
Heath said he was told at the Besson Street Police Station yesterday, where Duke was being detained and questioned, that the police were on their way to DPP’s office to determine if charges should or should not be laid against Duke.
“I was told by Sgt Lall that once charges are laid he will give me a call. I have not received a call as yet. I am still awaiting their response,” Heath said.
On Monday, Duke, who was detained and questioned by Special Branch officers, had to be hospitalised at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, after falling ill.
In his discussion with Duke yesterday, Heath said his client again complained of feeling unwell.
“I am not sure if they would take him back to the hospital. The police are in the process of going to the DPP to take instructions whether or not there are any possible charges against Mr Duke.”
If charge/s are preferred on the PSA head, Heath said he would try to get station bail for him.
“To say if he will get it (bail), that is another question.”
Heath said Duke was only doing his job as a union leader when he addressed the workers.
“I don’t know if there is a precedent for a union leader in the course of making a union speech being charged for sedition in Trinidad and Tobago. That is cause for consolation.”
As an attorney, Heath held the view that T&T’s sedition act was outdated.
“It may also run contrary to the Constitution and freedom of speech. While it may not be an absolute right, in the context of it being a union leader, giving an address to members, one has to be concerned...especially in the climate of the political season.”
Heath said Duke is also the Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader and a “political figure.”