ST. GEORGES, Grenada – A preliminary inquest into the death of a Toronto man in Grenada and the five police officers accused of beating him has begun.
Grenadan public prosecution director Christopher Nelson said 16 witnesses are expected to testify in the inquest next week, including the wife of victim Oscar Bartholomew.
Prosecutors have alleged police beat Bartholomew to death on Boxing Day after an altercation that began when he bear-hugged a policewoman he mistook for a friend
Five police officers have been charged with manslaughter in the case.
Lawyers for the accused policemen failed in their bid to have the preliminary inquest into Bartholomew’s death delayed as part of their request for a coroner’s investigation.
Nelson said Friday that two pathologists already determined Bartholomew’s cause of death.
One autopsy has shown Bartholomew sustained skull fractures and broken bones, among other injuries after being held in police custody.
The 39-year-old died in hospital a day after the alleged police beating.
The charged officers, all constables, are Edward Gibson, Shaun Ganness, Roddy Felix, Kenton Hazzard and Wendell Sylvester.
Bartholomew’s friends and family have expressed outrage the officers weren’t charged with murder.
The accused officers face 15 years in prison if convicted. None of the allegations against them have been tested in court.
Bartholomew was a permanent resident of Canada who lived in Toronto but was in his native Grenada to visit family over the holidays. He was the father of a 13-year-old girl and 12-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.
He was buried at a funeral in Grenada on Jan. 9 which was attended by the island nation’s prime minister.
The case stunned the country and sparked protests over alleged systemic police brutality.
— With files from The Canadian Press.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly stated Bartholomew was a Canadian citizen. In fact, he was a permanent resident.