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Use of illness as an alibi to avoid arrest is not legal

ILLNESS is not an acceptable alibi against arrest, members of the legal fraternity have confirmed.

They were reacting to reports that police reportedly had to hold off an arrest warrant for the second time after a senior government minister and his supporters reportedly told police the minister was unwell.

“Any arrest could be detrimental to his health,” police were reportedly told.

But members of the legal fraternity said illness is not an alibi to avoid arrest.

“Arrest is a formality in the process of dealing with crimes and it can be executed anytime anywhere even if one is on his or her deathbed,” one lawyer told Island Sun yesterday.

“Nothing can stop an arrest. If police are saying that they can’t execute an arrest warrant on the basis of illness, they are not doing their work,” the lawyer said.

He said only in court appearance can the alleged offender’s lawyer inform the court that his client could not attend because of illness.

“But even then it is subject to the decision of the presiding judge or magistrate,” the lawyer said.

The Minister in question is one of four senior Cabinet Ministers being aggressively pursued after police investigations into their use of Constituency grants over the last seven or so years.

Several MPs spoken to over the last few days have also confirmed that it could only be a matter of days before police nab the senior minister. The Minister was seen leaving the Office of the Commissioner of Police last Thursday afternoon in the company of the acting director of the National Criminal Investigation Division, Nathaniel Kabagita.

No comments could be obtained from the Office of the Commissioner on the purpose of the visit. There are speculations that the visit was intended to explain the procedures to the Minister.

Meanwhile investigations are on-going on other MPs and will take a little longer due to the complexity of their cases.

Several others have reportedly been “cleared” by the police investigation being undertaken by a special taskforce from the National CID. But lawyers again contested such a claim, saying police do not have the authority to clear anyone in their investigations.

“The only person who has the authority to clear anyone is the Office of the Director of the Public Prosecution (DPP). But even then, he had to ask the Court to do it, not his office,” one lawyer said.

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