ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) _ One of 19 people accused in the 1983 slaying of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop agreed Tuesday to testify against his co-defendants, the prosecution announced.
In return, murder charges against Fabian Vernon Gabriel were dropped, and the former cook of the now-defunct People’s Revolutionary Army was released for the first time since his arrest almost 2 1/2 years ago.
The trial is set to resume Wednesday, with chief prosecutor Karl Hudson- Phillips scheduled to present his case against the other defendants, each of whom is charged with 11 counts of murder.
The charges stem from the Oct. 19, 1983 deaths of Bishop, three Cabinet ministers and seven supporters at the hands of members of Bishop’s own New Jewel Movement political party.
Last week, Chief Justice Dennis Byron sentenced 17 of the defendants to contempt of court when they disrupted pre-trial proceedings.
The 17 include former deputy prime minister Bernard Coard and former army commander Hudson Austin.
The People’s Revolutionary government fell shortly after U.S. forces invaded Grenada on Oct. 25, 1983.
Lengthy pre-trial proceedings, in which defense attorneys claimed the court lacked jurisdiction and that publicity precluded receiving an impartial hearing, ended last Friday when a jury was empaneled.
The start of the trial was postponed from Monday when the prosecution discovered that an alternate juror’s relative had been killed during the shooting that resulted in Bishop’s death, although none of the defendants are charged with that killing.