KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Less than a week after she pleaded guilty to four counts of libel by electronic communication under the controversial Cybercrime Act, Catisha Pierre-Jack Friday told a magistrate court she is changing her plea to not guilty.
Pierre-Jack told the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court that she had pleaded guilty on Monday because the investigating officer had pressured her to do so.
She told Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett that the officer repeatedly asked her at the police station how she was going to plead and she said not guilty.
Pierre-Jack further said that when the matter was about to be called at the court on Monday, the officer again asked her how she was going to plead and she said not guilty, telling him that the statements she complained of were true.
The woman told the court that the officer, a corporal, then told her that she should plead guilty because she had made the Facebook posts that her sister claimed were libellous.
Pierre-Jack, who did not have a lawyer at her arraignment on Monday, was initially scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
However, when the matter came up, Pierre-Jack told the court that she was being represented by attorney, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste.
The magistrate informed the court that he had indeed received a letter from Bacchus-Baptiste indicating that her client had pleaded guilty because of the pressure from the police officer. Bacchus-Baptiste was not present in court.
The magistrate said that he found the allegation disturbing and said that he would order an investigation, before reading out the charges again to Pierre-Jack, who pleaded not guilty.
The matter has since been adjourned to April 24.
Pierre-Jack is accused of making four libellous posts on the social network, Facebook, about her older sister, Crystal Pierre, on January 31, this year.
In pleading guilty then, she created history in becoming the first person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to appear in court to answer charges under the controversial cybercrime law that was passed by Parliament in 2016 amidst local, regional and international objection.
If she is found guilty, Pierre-Jack faces maximum fines of EC$50 000 and two years in jail.
The accused woman told the court that she had a witness who would testify that what she had said in the posts is true. The mother of the two women, who is reported to have suffered at least three strokes, was visibly upset at the ongoing legal wrangling between her daughters. (CMC)