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Wednesday 26 September 2018
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‘Justice not in the road’

Shortly after a candle ritual and a two-mile peace walk in Moruga to mark the end of several days of fiery protests over police killings of three friends on July 22, the funeral for the first victim was held in San Fernando yesterday.

Alana Duncan, 27, of Duncan Village, San Fernando was given a tearful send off by close friends and relatives at the St Paul’s Anglican Church, San Fernando in a one hour service officiated by Canon Francis Caesar.

Scores of mourners could not hold back their tears when at the end of the service, the large brown casket was opened for a final viewing of Duncan. They took turns to kiss her goodbye before she was later laid to rest at the Roodal Cemetery, San Fernando.

Duncan’s friends Keron Fernando Eccles, 29, of Moruga Main Road, Moruga and Abigail Johnson, 20, of Burton Trace, Moruga are expected to buried later this week.

It was two Fridays ago, that Eccles, Johnson and Duncan were travelling in a car driven by Duncan when it was reported that police officers of the San Fernando Robbery Squad intercepted the vehicle. Police report the occupants opened fire on the officers who returned fire, killing the three friends.

Eyewitnesses have denied the police account saying the three friends were innocent victims. Their deaths sparked outrage in the Moruga community and led to daily protests in which villagers called for justice, blocked roads and set fires.

On Thursday, Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs, Deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski and Supt Irwin Hackshaw met with the families of Eccles and Johnson at St Mary’s Government Primary School, Moruga. The relatives were dissatisfied with the outcome and said their demands for the removal of investigator Supt Donald Denoon, a former head of the Southern Division, the suspension of the officers and financial assistance and counselling, were not met.

The next day, they met with Director of the Police Service Complaints Authority Gillian Lucky, who gave them the assurance that justice will be served. Lucky and her team paid a personal visit to the homes of Eccles and Johnson’s families. Afterward, the families were told that Denoon was replaced by Assistant Police Commissioner Raymond Craig as the investigator. Counselling and financial assistance were also arranged by Moruga/Tableland MP Clfton De Coteau.

From around 9.30 am, relatives and friends of Eccles and Johnson braved heavy showers and gathered at the spot where they and Duncan were killed at Gunness Trace, Rochard Douglas Road, Barrckpore to begin a peaceful march to the St Mary’s Basketball Court, Moruga at the corner of Poui Trace Junction and Moruga Main Road.

Attorney Keith Scotland, who has been retained by the families of Eccles and Johnson, addressed the large crowd.

He called on them to stop blocking the roads and to seek justice for the killings through the courts.

“I understand your anger, and that anger comes from a sense of injustice. The time has come however to stop blocking the roads, you have retained a lawyer and we believe in the rule of law. The justice is not in the road but in the Hall of Justice, that is where we will get our justice,” he said.

Scotland said he had done research and found that allegations that the three friends had been involved in kidnapping, robbery and had a stolen vehicle were untrue.

“This is a matter that cries out for justice,” he added. “Nobody deserves that death, not even the worst of the worst and they were not the worst of the worst.”

In a 20-minute ritual before the walk began, Eccles’ brother Ricardo knelt in the middle of the road and cried out for justice as he lit eight coloured candles: five black, one white and one yellow. He also threw milk and puncheon rum on the ground and placed three hot congo peppers and two limes, cut in half, next to the candles. He then sprinkled salt around him as villagers gathered around, blowing horns, beating drums and chanting. The candles were left to burn out on the road.

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