Turks and Caicos drops controversial bullet charges against American tourists
Published on May 18, 2013
By Caribbean News Now contributor
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — In separate press statements on Friday, the director of public prosecutions in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), JoAnn Meloche announced that she has decided to discontinue the criminal proceedings against the two elderly American tourists who were arrested last month on charges of each carrying a single bullet in their luggage.
“The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have conducted a thorough investigation into this matter. After a review of the available evidence and taking into account all the circumstances, it is the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to discontinue the criminal proceedings pursuant to section 100(2)(c) of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution Order 2011,” the statements read.
On April 25, TCI police arrested Cathy Davis, the 60-year-old co-owner of a Dallas real estate firm, and charged her with carrying ammunition. She was released on $4,000 cash bail.
In a similar incident the following day, also at the Providenciales International Airport, police arrested Horace Norrell Jr., a retired neurosurgeon, who had traveled to the TCI with his wife to celebrate his 80th birthday. He was also charged with carrying ammunition.
After spending the weekend in jail, because no judge would stay late on a Friday to hear his bail application, the senior citizen was also released on $4,000 bail.
It is widely believed locally that the bullets were planted in the visitors’ luggage. However, the motive for doing so remains a mystery,
The treatment of Davis and Norrell by the TCI authorities gained the attention of two US senators – Bill Nelson of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Last week, Nelson and Cruz sent a letter to John Dinkelman, charge d’affaires at the American Embassy in Nassau, The Bahamas, requesting an “expedited investigation”.
Alleging that the incidents look like a “shakedown”, Nelson said later that he was expanding his original request to include not only similar incidents that have occurred since January but also “to include anytime.”
The incidents have seriously threatened the territory’s crucial but fragile tourism industry. Many Americans have reportedly cancelled planned visits to the TCI, some through fear that a similar fate could befall them and others in protest over the treatment of the two US visitors.