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Court Rejects Defense Plea For Leftists Facing Death Penalty

August 9, 1991

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (AP) _ A court Thursday rejected a last-ditch appeal for 14 people sentenced to hang for the 1983 killing of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and nine of his supporters.

The killings occurred during a coup that was cut short by a U.S.-led military invasion of the tiny Caribbean island nation.

The three-man Court of Appeal, the nation’s highest tribunal, turned down a defense lawyers’ plea to issue a stay of execution and rehear the case. Its decision clears the way for the hangings, although government officials declined to say when they might occur.

Grenada newspapers reported two weeks ago that the government planned quickly to hang five of the accused, including former deputy prime minister Bernard Coard. Officials denied the reports.

Coard led a hard-core faction in Bishop’s leftist New Jewel Movement that tried to take power in October 1983. A military firing squad gunned down Bishop and seven supporters. Two others were killed later.

In a lengthy ruling July 12, the appeals court had upheld the defendants’ convictions on ten counts of murder and the death sentence handed down by a trial court in 1986.

″In my view, there is no error″ in the July 12 ruling, the court’s president, Sir Frederick Smith, declared Thursday after arguments by defense lawyers and prosecutors. ″At this stage, I’m not prepared to entertain any arguments that I misdirected myself.″

The panel also rejected arguments that the accused had the right to take the case to the Privy Council in Britain, a court of last resort for the judicial system of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

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