By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Police in Saint Lucia said on Tuesday that two other individuals have been taken into custody in relation to an attack on Friday on a British couple on board their yacht in Vieux Fort, which led to the death of 62-year-old Roger Pratt.
Police said the Major Crimes Unit made the arrests on Monday.
“Currently, five persons are in police custody and assisting with investigations,” police said in a news release, adding that charges are expected to be laid “at a later date”.
According to police, Pratt was killed and his wife, 60-year-old Margaret Pratt, injured during an incident aboard their vessel named “Magnetic Attraction” which was docked at the Seaport in Vieux Fort on January 17, 2014.
Police have now confirmed that Pratt died of asphyxia secondary to blunt force trauma following a post mortem examination conducted on Monday.
“On arrival, the officers received information that three armed men had boarded the vessel, attacked and injured the occupants before they fled. At the time of the incident, the vessel was occupied by Margaret Pratt and her husband, Roger Pratt.
“Within minutes of the robbers fleeing, Margaret went in search of her husband and found him floating in the nearby waters. Roger was retrieved and transported to St Jude Hospital via ambulance along with his wife. He was pronounced dead on arrival while Margaret was treated and discharged,” the police said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the government of Saint Lucia has come under fire in relation to alleged bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies that may have indirectly contributed to Pratt’s death.
The Pratts’ departure from Saint Lucia had reportedly been delayed as a result of being unable to obtain clearance to leave by local immigration officials.
Questions are now being asked as to the reasons for the delay in processing the Pratts’ departure clearance.
According to Margaret Pratt’s own blog, the Customs official in Soufriere, who could have cleared them for departure from Saint Lucia on Thursday, failed to turn up to work. The Pratts apparently then decided to travel to Vieux Fort, a commercial port with its own Customs office, where wealthy visitors are likely to have stuck out.
Margaret Pratt’s blog has since been removed, leading to allegations of a cover-up by authorities in Saint Lucia, but there is still a record online of the relevant contents:
"On Thursday morning the plan was to clear out from Soufriere, then to travel south and use up the 72 hours before we had to be away.
"But bureaucracy intervened. HM Customs and Excise in Soufriere told us that exit had to happen within 24 hours of clearing out; and that anyway, we couldn't clear out of Soufriere that day because the Immigration Officer hadn't come to work(!!)
"So here we are in Vieux Fort, the most southerly port of clearance in St Lucia. It's very different. There's a port; an airport and no tourists - and so it's a regular town."
This is the second tourism-related incident to figure prominently in the British media within one month – the first being a near-disaster with a Virgin Atlantic aircraft on landing at Hewanorra International Airport on Christmas Eve, that could have serious implications for Saint Lucia’s economy.
The government is being accused of an ongoing failure to tackle crime in the island, even though it publicly acknowledged the problem as long ago as 2010 when it was then in opposition.