YESTERDAY’S developments in the case of the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt were all distressing. The death of the prime suspect followed by the pathologist’s report of an inconclusive autopsy were tell-tale signs that notwithstanding the national uproar for justice, this case, like so many others, may well peter out in yet another dead-end. As it stands now, two of the eight persons detained in connection with the murder remain in custody, two having died and one released yesterday.
More than ever, the death of a second suspect while in police custody underscores the need for an independent inquiry into this entire investigation, beginning with the initial missing person’s report filed by Andrea Bharatt’s family on the evening of January 29, right through to yesterday’s autopsy.
The failure of the autopsy to yield a cause of death on the grounds of advanced decomposition of the victim’s body, which was found six days after she went missing, is wholly unacceptable and raises questions about the conduct of the autopsy. There are too many known inadequacies at the Forensic Science Centre for an “inconclusive” finding to be accepted at first attempt. We urge the authorities to persist in the effort to determine the cause of death and to secure any forensic evidence that could establish the details surrounding her kidnapping and murder. It will be the ultimate injustice if this case were to fizzle out in a cloud of doubt and be forever dogged by nagging questions and conspiracy theories. Not only will it deny her family the closure they should have, but it will realise the population’s worst fears that the entire criminal justice system is unequipped to deliver justice.
As this newspaper has repeatedly warned, the loss of public confidence in the justice system is a dangerous development in any society. As we already know, the many failures of the criminal justice system have resulted in people taking the law into their own hands which is a major source of endemic crime in this country. The entire system is being challenged by a public that has had enough and is demanding that the system justify its existence and prove its worth.
As protests continue to spread across the island Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley should recognise that the killing of Andrea Bharatt is no ordinary nine days’ wonder that will disappear with the next big thing but that, for many, it marks a point of no return. People are profoundly disturbed and are already taking matters into their own hands. As head of the National Security Council we urge Dr Rowley to convene the council and come up with effective, well-resourced strategy for solving this case which may indeed solve many others.
This is no time for the Government to adopt the kind of condescending insensitivity displayed by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi in Parliament last Friday in dumbing down the public’s anger as a “reactionary” response of people coming out of their “traditional caves” to make a cry and plea for better society. It is so much more than that.