CCJ frees two accused in Lusignan Massacre

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Friday restored the 2013 acquittals of James Hyles and Mark Williams, men who were charged with 11 counts of murder in the case of the Lusignan massacre.

The massacre occurred on January 26, 2008, when gunmen went from house to house with high powered rifles and killed eleven persons, five of whom were children, as they slept in their homes.

Hyle and Williams were indicted for the murders, but in August 2013 a jury found the men not guilty on all counts.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had appealed the acquittals, under the newly amended Court of Appeal Act, on the basis that there were material irregularities in the trial.

The Court of Appeal agreed, allowed the appeal, overturned the verdicts of not guilty and sent the matter back to the High Court for a retrial.

The men appealed to the CCJ, which held that while it could not with the required degree of certainty infer that the acquittals were the result of errors and that it was possible that the jury simply did not believe, beyond reasonable doubt, the evidence presented by the state.

As a result, the CCJ allowed the appeal, set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal of Guyana and restored the jury’s verdict of acquittal of the appellants.

In the separate Bartica massacre, Mark Williams was in February 2017 found guilty on eight counts of murder and four counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

(The judgment of the CCJ and a detailed judgment summary are available on the CCJ’s website at www.ccj.org)

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