BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 12th February 2021)-Newcomer to the party-politics arena, Leon Natta-Nelson who ran on a St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) ticket in the June 2020 General Elections is of the view that opponents stooped to a low targeting him regarding his license firearm renewal in an effort to affect his candidacy in Constituency Seven going up against Dr. Timothy Harris-the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security.
In an interview with this media house, he shared such sentiments following the court’s ruling which saw the Director of Public Prosecution having heard the arguments withdrew the matter “on the basis that other people were not given the same treatment” following a court session on Tuesday 9th February 2021 concerning the October 2018 matter.
“Going up against somebody who has been there for 30 years or more, it is surprising that they would have stooped to that low of a level to try to elevate their position against someone who is just freshly coming into politics. You would have thought that they would have had more resources, more tact, more etiquette and understanding of politics in a more mature manner type rather than to go to the gutter and try to spoil a name and disrupt and cause hardship,” Natta-Nelson told this reporter.
On Wednesday 10th October 2018, Natta-Nelson was formally arrested and charged for failing to renew his Firearm Users License between February 01, 2018 and October 07, 2018.
As gathered, a list of other licensed firearm holders referred to in the court include prominent individuals.
“…two and a half years later almost, the case came to its time to be tried and during the trial my competent legal team in Sylvester Anthony and Angelina Sookoo-Bobb presented their argument in my defense. The arguments revealed, in the cross examination, that multiple people were late at the same time that I was late for my firearm license renewal.”
“Such list of persons would have include the likes of a now minister of government [and] the brother of the Prime Minister and it was revealed that that brother failed to renew in two consecutive years 2017 and 2018. There were also other prominent persons who were late before me and after me but did not receive any warrant for their arrest or any summary judgment or prosecution and so there was no explanation given to the magistrate as to why those persons did not receive the same treatment as me so my lawyer suggested to the court that that was selective prosecution never forgetting that at the same time I was charged with this offense that I was also served with disciplinary by the PSC [Public Service Commission] for engaging in politics because these two charges are not independent of each other; those charges coming on the auspices of the Prime Minister at the time, the now Prime Minister so these arguments proceeded in court,” he added.
Natta-Nelson said it was his anticipation that similar results would have happened had the court case been allowed to continue because of the statute of limitations in the matter.
“I was confident all along that the charges against me would have been either withdrawn or I would have beaten the charges. It took two to two and a half years to complete but nevertheless that part of it is out of my control.”
Natta-Nelson has extended gratitude to his “competent, experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel for coming to my defense as usual and helping me to keep my winning ways. I’m grateful and appreciative of their performance.”
In March 2019, a decision at the high court ruled in favour of Natta-Nelson, a senior customs officer, who challenged the Public Service Conduct and Ethics of Officers Code rules 36 and 38 in going up against the government after being dealt disciplinary action of suspension in October 2018 for being involved in party politics.
For his most recent victory, he also thanked his family members, friends as well as comrades of Labour and Constituency Seven who have supported him throughout this ordeal.
“I can’t underestimate the disruptive pain and hardship that it caused on me and my family and friends having to face such and so on all in the name of politics in an effort to derail my candidacy for the Labor Party to disrupt my campaign. I think the kitchen sink, the hammer, the missile; everything was launched against me but nevertheless I feel as though I went out there under the circumstances and performed to the best of my ability and gave the people of number seven the best choice…better future for them and for this country. It didn’t happen but I continue to fight for the will of the people of Constituency Seven and beyond.”
Commenting on whether or not the court issue affected his ground work during the election campaign, Natta-Nelson pointed out: “What it did is that it put an obstacle in front of my campaign and my candidacy. It laid the grounds for all sorts of rumors and allegations to be had and those are things that one would have to explain to people who are in the constituency and people of the entire country so it put my campaign and movement at a strong disadvantage going in and going in for the first time.”
He continued: “Going up against somebody who has been there for 30 years or more, it is surprising that they would have stopped to that low of a level to try to elevate their position against someone who is just freshly coming into politics. You would have thought that they would have had more resources, more tact, more etiquette and understanding of politics in a more mature manner type of rather than to go to the gutter and try to spoil a name and disrupt and cause hardship so indeed it was a hard fought situation but nevertheless, I think my shoulders were broad enough to handle it and it think I handle it with grace and I put foraged the best performance I could to reach out to people and give them a better option in terms of getting opportunities for themselves and their family in the betterment of St.Kitts-Nevis.”