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Ellington warns Jamaicans against mob killings

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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COMMISSIONER of Police Owen Ellington has warned Jamaicans against engaging in mob killings, while stating that persons who partake in this form of vigilante justice will be prosecuted for murder.

"Citizens have a duty to report crimes to the police or where possible apprehend felons and hand them over to the police. On no account must anyone inflict punishment on a suspected offender," Ellington said in a statement Tuesday.

"Every case of mob killing is classified as murder and will be thoroughly investigated by the police so that those responsible are arrested and charged," Ellington said.

Ellington's warning follows a wave of mob killings across the island in recent weeks, the last one being on Sunday, as Jamaicans -- increasingly weary of crime and a justice system they perceived to be broken and ineffective -- resort to exacting their own brand of justice.

The commissioner's statement comes on the heels of the outcry from a number of civic groups for the nation's leaders to strongly condemn vigilante justice.

The groups were particularly incensed by the mob killing of a school teacher following a motor vehicle accident along Old Harbour Road and that of a man in Zion, Trelawny, who was accused of shielding his stepson whom they claimed killed two boys from the community.

Ellington sought to make a case for justice system.

"The commissioner is using this opportunity to again warn Jamaicans that they should exercise restraint and have every confidence in the justice system that it is working, rather than seek to by-pass it and engage in the criminal act of mob killing," the statement said.

The latest mob killing, which is the fourth in recent weeks, occurred on Sunday when mason Dwight Lester, 29, a resident of Windsor Castle in Portland, was reportedly set upon by residents in Daytona, Portmore, St Catherine, after he was allegedly caught breaking into premises in the community about 3:00 am.

Just five days earlier, an angry mob mauled and chopped Oral Smith, 23, to death in Savannah Cross, Clarendon after he reportedly beat another man to death when his demand for $100 was not met.

Those two incidents followed the much-publicised mob killing of 43-year-old Donovan Hazley and the injuring of his 18-year-old daughter on September 23, and the killing of the teacher five days later along Old Harbour Road in St Catherine.

Hazley and his daughter were attacked by a mob who fire-bombed their home in Zion, after the deaths of two boys from their community, whose decomposing bodies were fished from the Martha Brae River days before the incident. The residents claimed that the boys were sodomised, even as a post-mortem later showed that they had drowned.

Four men have been charged in connection with Hazley's death.

The teacher, 41-year-old Michael Melbourne, head of the Computer Science Department at Old Harbour High School, was chased, beaten and stabbed to death by an angry mob after a vehicle which he was driving struck down four persons along Old Harbour Road. It was reported that the four persons were assisting a man who was the victim of a hit-and-run when they themselves were hit by Melbourne's car.

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