BVI residents say ex-premier Fahie set up by UK, didn't get fair trial

BVI residents say ex-premier Fahie set up by UK, didn’t get fair trial

ROAD TOWN, Tortola — British Virgin Islands residents seemed to be in agreement with closing arguments put forth by a lawyer representing ex-Premier Andrew Fahie that he was set up by Great Britain.

Fahie, 53, was convicted on February 8 in a Miami courtroom on cocaine conspiracy and money laundering charges.

BVI residents looking for information thereafter crashed the online site of the island’s largest newspaper that day, and stores carrying The Daily News on Tortola the following day reported being sold out within hours.

On Monday, the conspiracy theories gained even more traction after two of the 12 jurors in Fahie’s trial said they really didn’t share the views of the rest of the jury panel about the disgraced ex-premier’s guilt. But according to a Miami Herald article, it was too late as the judge had already polled each of the 12 jurors on their unanimous verdicts and discharged them from jury duty.

Diego Penn, an unsuccessful Seventh District National Democratic Party candidate in 2019 elections, told The Daily News when he first heard of the verdict and the speed of the trial, “something didn’t sound right because of the volume of evidence in the case.”

Penn said he felt as if “England and America came together to remove Fahie, who was seen as the biggest threat to England getting its way” to regaining direct oversight over the British territory.

“I know it’s a ticklish situation but it’s tough to get a fair trial in America. I don’t think we’ll see an American president being tried in any other country in the world. We won’t live long enough to see that,” he said. “But they could try leaders from all over the world in their country, for whatever reason. Now to hear two jurors were not in favor of saying guilty, that in itself is a hung jury.”

Callers to TolaRadioVI Morning Braff program on Friday said Fahie didn’t get a fair trial.

“The general consensus was whether innocent or guilty, they don’t believe the brother was handed a fair trial,” program host Floyd Burnett told The Daily News. “We also realized that 90% or more of the information was left out and clearly a lot of details were missing. The people that set up brother Fahie didn’t see a day in court and a lot of things haven’t been cleared. I don’t know if that was the general overall consensus. Whether innocent or guilty, we were disappointed in the behavior of the jury.”

Expressing his personal view, the radio host said Fahie presented his case from a profound angle.

“He made clear in black and white, time, date, evidence — everything and it was totally overlooked,” he said. “… I think that he was able to prove that the U.S. and the British governments conspired to basically entrap him as the leader of a country and I think he did a good job of proving that. The courts carried on with theatrics to get him out of there with the speed of light basically.”

Former House Speaker Julian Willock, who served during the Fahie administration, said the verdict surprised him.

“It’s unfortunate, but in the U.S. legal system, there’s an appeal and I’m sure that the former premier will appeal, to ensure his innocence as he has said he’s innocent, will be proven in a court of law,” Willock said.

Willock has had his own run-ins with law. Over a year ago he was charged with human trafficking. Willock confirmed his own detainment after BVI police released a statement about an unidentified man being arrested “following an investigation into visa waiver anomalies and suspected human trafficking into the BVI” and that the individual was released.

Willock made details of his arrest public, noting in a statement that “on January 10, 2023, at around 11 a.m. I was detained, questioned, and released without charges by six (6) Caucasian United Kingdom (UK) officers. They claimed I was being investigated on suspicion of Human Trafficking, because of some VISA waivers I had obtained over the years,” in association with his company, Advance Marketing and Professional Services, the parent company of the Virgin Islands News Online website, which employs expatriate staff.

“These were all legally acquired through the Deputy Governor’s Office. Most of the VISA Waivers were obtained before my tenure as Speaker,” he wrote.

The Daily News contacted the office of Deputy Gov. David DaCosta Archer Jr., for comment at the time to no avail. To date, there has been no further mention of the case by either BVI police or Government House.

Willock, in his January 2023 statement, insisted that he also was set up.

“I know the people of the Virgin Islands are fully awake and still have confidence in my integrity, for it was suggested if they could not get me via the Commission of Inquiry, they had to get me another way,” Willock said, citing the 900-plus page report released on April 29, 2022, by then Gov. John Rankin, following a 15-month probe into widespread fraud among BVI leadership.

The COI, requested by Rankin’s predecessor, Augustus Jaspert, was released one day after Fahie’s arrest in Miami alongside BVI Ports Director Oleanvine Maynard.

Premier Natalio Wheatley has not publicly addressed Fahie’s conviction, but in May 2022 — while serving as acting premier — condemned what he described as the “deplorable actions” of Fahie during a session of the House of Assembly.


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