Kill them all, said the boss. So said, so done

Dole Chadee, Joey Ramiah and Ramkalawan Singh will hang on Friday 4 June. On the following day, Robin Gopaul, Russell Sankerali and Joel Ramsingh will join their colleagues in hell (or so the Christians will have us believe), and, on the Monday after, Stephen Eversley, Clive Thomas and Bhagwandeen Singh will meet the same fate.

The Law Lords, sitting as the Privy Council in Whitehall, rejected their final appeal, refusing to define hanging as cruel and unusual punishment.

The traps will fly at the Royal Gaol, Frederick St, Port of Spain, Trinidad, with a 15-minute break between each session.

I phoned my youngest brother, now nearly 40 and with a supervisory post in Trinidad's oil refinery. "We go buss dey neck," he exclaimed triumphantly, and in the course of the conversation substituted another verb, "pop". Translated it says we are going to hang the bastards. He added that 95 per cent of the population agrees. And then slap-bang in the middle of my forehead: "Your Privy Council agrees."

Perhaps some background is in order. Chadee is the leader of the pack, licensed to sell cocaine locally and transship the substances internationally by a former commissioner of police. Chadee took care of marketing, and executions were the purview of the Fox, the late commissioner and his officers.

Slowly but surely Chadee rose to prominence with his own army of soldiers and an extensive armoury.

Police officers from England were invited in to investigate corruption. They were lucky to leave the country alive. The cancer spread, and it appeared at one time that all were consumed. A former attorney-general only months out of power had his head blown off after refusing to return in kind masses of American dollars which he had laundered. It was revealed that the then prime minister sold his car to Chadee for a record-breaking price. Political parties were part of Chadee's dealings.

He was now an untouchable with many notches on his gun: Rammer the Jammer, Creamy, Thackoor, Scotty and about 30 more. Then Chadee set up camp close to the tiny village in which I spent the first ten years of my life - Eckel's Village, Williamsville - in Piparo, at the edge of the forested area.

I roamed there as a boy, played my first representative cricket match for Eckel's Village Anglican School against Piparo Canadian Mission School. He dug trenches, encased thousands of kilos of drugs in concrete on what for me is hallowed ground.

A sleepy colonial village was transformed into a hive of activity. Policemen openly beat a path to his door. Lawyers, politicians, punks, barflies, the lot.

Bandits preyed on the pushers; Chadee executed the bandits. Simple. Then finally came a huge mistake. The Baboolal family, whom I have known personally for over 45 years, were consigned some dope. The profits dwindled, and young Baboolal thought that Chadee, with his millions, should not be hassling him for a few thousand and said so. "Kill them all," ordered the boss. Mother, father, sons. So said, so done. The population went into spasms of anger. Chadee's bosses turned on him. On Friday sunrise he will don his funeral shroud. Slowly but surely the pundit will lead him in prayer to the trap door. A flick, and he is dead.

Currently there are similar shootings in Harlesden, London. Drugs again, I expect. The perpetrators will be caught, tried and sentenced perhaps to life imprisonment. Yet our Privy Council participates in the execution of West Indians in the West Indies for identical crimes.

That must be brought to an end. Lord Irvine is well advised to stop all new appeals from the Commonwealth to the Privy Council for good and all, dealing finally with what's in the pipeline. Our Law Lords deserve to sleep peacefully and dream pleasantly in their beds at night.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.

This article first appeared in the 07 June 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Europe grows after Kosovo