Friday, July 10, 2015
A day after Foreign Affairs Minister Senator AJ Nicholson drew the ire of many Jamaicans over what was felt were inappropriate remarks regarding the then reported release of Jamaican pilot Paul Stephens from prison in Qatar, the authorities say they have now received official word from the Qatari Government that the Jamaican is still behind bars.
It appears that Stephens may soon be freed, however, as according to the foreign affairs ministry, at the end of last month Stephens would have spent a total of three years and nine months of his five-year sentence.
"The ministry understands that there is provision in the Qatari legal system for the remission of three months' sentence for each year to be served," the ministry explained in a release yesterday.
On Tuesday Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs Edmund Bartlett had issued a release claiming that Stephens had been freed from prison. But at that time Nicholson said he had received no such news from Jamaican embassy officials in Kuwait.
On Wednesday, Nicholson questioned what he said was unwarranted interest in the case, stating that he would not comment any further on the matter. Persons close to the case have accused the ministry of not doing enough to press the Qatari Government to pardon Stephens, but some have cautioned against Jamaica appearing to take a particular posture in a case in which a person has been convicted of sexual molestation of a minor.
The ministry made it clear yesterday that it: "Does not presume to make a judgement as to the guilt or innocence of any Jamaican national."
It also said it understood that others may choose to offer opinions in that regard. more