Three American visitors, who were recently acquitted of violating the emergency orders after they went on a closed beach, should have faced a trial, Commissioner of Police (COP) Paul Rolle argued.
“What the defendants admitted to was knowingly breaking the law,” Rolle said in a recent statement.
“If the reason the defendants gave for going on the beach was accepted by the court, then by law, a trial must be held to give the other side an opportunity to be heard because the defendants’ explanation amounts to a not guilty plea.
“That’s what the Criminal Procedure Code dictates and magistrates are creatures of statute.
“Even if an officer told the defendants that it was OK for them to go on the beach, they are guilty.”
Police on Wednesday arrested Rana Mohamed Kenawy, Marian Mohamed and Ikrane Kanane, of Boston, Massachusetts, after a viral video of the women scaling the fence to Cabbage Beach on July 10, caused public outcry.
The prime minister ordered that all beaches on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Paradise Island and the surrounding cays be closed during the Independence Day holiday weekend to stop the spread of COVID-19. Since the country reopened its borders on July 1, there has been a surge in new cases on Grand Bahama and New Providence.
In court, Kenawy said an Officer Smith, who was wearing brown clothing, gave them permission to enter the beach.
She alleged that the officer and a woman said that, “We will turn our backs while you go.”
Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes said that the officers had given the visitors “tacit consent” and they could not be charged a violation of the law.
As a result, Forbes acquitted and discharged the women.
But Rolle said, “No officer, if their story is accepted, could give what he or she does not possess.
“No person, other than the PM (prime minister), competent authority; and the COP, to whom authority is delegated, could give permission to do that, which the emergency orders prohibits.
“The responsibility is on every citizen and visitor to know the law of the place they live or visit. The law is printed and accessible in print and electronic data for that reason.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
“A person’s ignorance to the law may go towards mitigation when it comes to sentencing, but it has no bearing on that person breaking the law because he/she didn’t take the time to research what the law permits or prohibits.”
Rolle said officers acted “appropriately” as it relates to the incident.