But with eight months calculated as one prison year, this meant the three men had already served their time and as such, walked out of the court yesterday free men.
The other ten – Bernard Coard, Callistus Bernard, Hudson Austin, Liam James, Leon Cornwall, John Anthony Ventour, Dave Bartholomew, Ewart Layne, Colville Mc Barnett and Selwyn Strachan – must serve 40 years hard labour from the time of their arrest.
That means they have another three years and two months to serve behind bars before they can be released.
The sentences were handed down before a packed courtroom at the Grand Anse Trade Centre at about 10.30 am. But it was not until 4.10 pm, that the three men walked out of prison to freedom. They were greeted by some of their attorneys – British Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald, Keith Scotland, Celeste Jules and Ruggles Ferguson, president of the Grenada Bar Association. At one time, it seemed that the men would not have been released.
Ferguson told the large gathering of media personnel that the Commissioner of Prisons was awaiting a phone call from the Attorney General before his clients could be released. Ferguson said the warrants of release were sent to the prison hours before, but he could not understand why it took so long for the men to be released.
Before they were released, the three men prayed with a Roman Catholic priest inside the prison walls. There was no big fanfare for the three. But there was tight security outside the jail as armed policemen kept watch as the three revolutionaries walked to freedom.
Prime’s daughter and other relatives whisked him away after he told reporters he was glad to be out of prison.
Prime said his life had changed while in prison and spoke of how close he came to being executed in 1991. He intends to move on now. Stroude thanked God for giving him a second chance. Redhead was too emotional to speak, but said he was glad to be out. He said it was a tearful scene saying goodbye to the other ten members of the “Grenada 13” left behind. Justice Bell arrived in court at 10.07 am and went right into his oral decision. He said this was a case for the death penalty, but because the “Grenada 13” had spent so long on death row, the Privy Council’s judgment in Pratt and Morgan applied.
He said the Court of Appeal should have commuted the death sentences to life imprisonment. He said the “Grenada 13” experienced near death in 1991 when warrants were read for their execution and according to the judge, that amounted to a breach of their constitutional rights.
Bell said there was good evidence to suggest the “Grenada 13” made good progress while in prison. He singled out Callistus Bernard as the man “who lost it” at Fort Rupert on October 19, 1983 when Maurice Bishop and others were killed. He found that the defendants were remorseful and agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions that this case “was the worst of the worst cases.” He disagreed with the DPP that this was a case for a life sentence. He then ordered that Redhead, Stroude and Prime be sentenced to 30 years in jail from the time of their arrests.
He ordered the other ten to serve 40 years hard labour. He asked that Hudson Austin be considered for remission for the role he played in rebuilding the island and the prison after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. He ordered that John Anthony Ventour be reviewed by the Prison Medical Board within the next six months concerning his medical complaint. Bell also ordered that the Prison Medical Board review Mc Barnett within the next 12 months. The 13 defendants later hugged and shook hands with their lawyers before they were taken back to Richmond Hill.