By: Spokesman Newsroom
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 19th October 2018)– This media house has gathered that on the day customs officer Leon Natta-Nelson (widely known as Leon Natta) was arrested last week, a letter was addressed to him from the office of his expected political opponent Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris pointing at his party politics activity.
While Natta is not without blame by critics for having missed the timeframe to renew the license for his legally obtained firearm, many people-including two top political and social commentators Terry Adams and Austin Edinborough-are of the view that the young man’s recent arrest could have been avoided.
Edinborough and Adams, a former police officer and customs officer respectively both aired their views on the subject matter this week during the call in segment of Freedom FM’s Monday 15th October ‘Issues’ edition.
Adams is of the view that Natta’s arrest was politically motivated while Edinborough believes that such is the latest episode of police officers abusing their power of arrest in his expressed concerns that St.Kitts-Nevis is becoming a police state.
Though unofficially announced by the opposition St.Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Natta is expected to contest the Constituency Seven seat going up against PM Harris who is the Minister of National Security.
Adams has shared why he thinks Natta’s arrest is political.
“The Prime Minister says the law is the law and that is quite true but I believe Mr. Natta arrest was political. Mr. Natta would have said to me once that he was a very, very close friend of the Harris family; he told me that close. The only obvious reason why they depart was because he said he (Natta) can never be associated with PAM; he said he would have said that to the Harris family…and it appears to be likely that that is the only reason that would have caused the falling out,” commented Adams.”
The former customs officer has advised police to be more careful in dealing with such matters saying: “The customs [department] does agency functions of the police, on and behalf of the police as it relates to the importation of firearms and ammunition and so when you are going to arrest a customs officer and humiliate him for something you could have cautioned him of or even suspend the license [and] not renew it let’s say for a year that would not have a bad punishment.”
“Truth is Mr. Natta has no right to be letting his license run up to October… so I can’t excuse him…but you have to be tactful when you doing these things…and because he erred you throw him to the dogs, under the bus? Again, what you think his peers and his juniors going to be thinking?” he added.
Adams also bashed the disciplinary course of action that Natta has received.
“Natta is now pulled before the public service commission for meddling with politics while being a civil servant. What happen to his constitutional right? What happen to his constitutional right…freedom of speech…freedom to assembly, what is happening to that? The Constitution is the highest law of the land and St.Kitts-Nevis people, we must be guided by that and the police must be guided by that as well. Nothing supersedes as the Constitution. As a man who criticise the Prime Minister, you must say he dabbling in politics? If a man decides to run against you in due time yes he must resign but before that you can’t punish him.”
Meanwhile Edinborough is of the view that the police should have handled the matter differently.
“Leon Natta, he is a holder of a firearm which he was granted permission to import and he failed to renew his license. When I was there, there are procedures that we followed but the event that it happens, what the police should have done and must have done after time has passed if they don’t want to notify him is to ask him to surrender the weapon until he fixes the permission to have it if that is case I don’t know. It doesn’t mean that he would not have or could not have been charged for failing to renew but he is a customs officer. Where is the fear of abscond? Where the fear of flight risk… where is it? Why do you have to think that you need to arrest and why does a magistrate think they should sign a warrant for such an arrest?”
On Wednesday 10th October, Natta was formally arrested and charged for failing to renew his Firearm Users License between February 01, 2018 and October 07, 2018.
The weapon, along with 25 rounds of ammunition, were confiscated by police two days before on Monday 8th October.
He subsequently received bail in the sum of $10,000 with two sureties and is slated to appear before the Basseterre Magistrate in December.
As understood, a letter dated10th October to Natta from the Human Resource Management Department in the Office of the Prime Minister revealed that he has broken the Public Service (Conduct and Ethics of Officers) Code as it has received “an adverse report of [his] involvement in political activity.”
Natta is said to have received the letter this week on Wednesday 17th October which comes seven days (one week) after.
That formal piece of communication also highlighted “that on or about the end of June 2018, you Leon Natta-Nelson, did introduce yourself to a resident of Christ Church Village, Christ Church, St. Kitts, as a candidate of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party running against the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris for the next general election.”