By CHESTER ROBARDS
Tribune Senior Reporter
ACCUSING the police force of double standards, Rodney Moncur said if he must face charges of posting “indecent photos” on the internet, so should the police officers who allegedly circulated the gruesome crime scene images of murder victim Nellie Brown-Cox.
Amid growing public concern about the police’s new internet censorship policy, the Justice of the Peace and human rights activist challenged Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade to be consistent and bring the photo leak officers to justice.
Moncur has been charged with “committing a grossly indecent act” by posting a picture of a man who died in police custody on his Facebook page.
There has been a huge response on social media to his arrest, with a Facebook group called Free Rodney Moncur gaining more than 4,000 members and Rodney Moncur’s name trending on Twitter. A number of people raised concerns over freedom of speech, and also raised the question of the crime scene photographs in the Brown-Cox case.
“I have been arrested for photographs,” Moncur said. “The Commissioner of Police promised us when the Nellie Brown-Cox photos were released – he said he knew who did it you know – and he is going to take action, and he’s going to tell the public.”
During a radio interview in July 2011, Commissioner Greenslade confirmed that the leak came from within the police force and said he was almost ready to make a decision on the investigation.
“We have done extremely well (with the leak investigation). I indicated to some press colleagues a short while back that the file is on my desk being carefully reviewed. I will be making decisions very shortly, and I will make a public pronouncement once a decision is made. I am not going to be rushed into making a decision until I am satisfied I have done my due diligence. I am almost there,” said Mr Greenslade.
Police officers who are found to be in breach of protocols could face “severe disciplinary action,” including dismissal from the force, he said.
But, Moncur noted, “To date, the Commissioner of Police has not reported to the public. And since it is officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force who did that, what is he going to do about them?
“It is double standards.”
The crime scene photos leaked by police showed a blood-stained apartment with Nellie Brown lying dead on the kitchen floor, several parts of her body hacked off. Other photos showed some of those severed body parts in other rooms of the apartment.
Moncur is accused of posting on Facebook autopsy photographs of Jamie Smith, a man who died in police custody last month, and the buttocks of another man who is claimed to have been beaten by police. The photos have since been removed.
Mr Moncur told The Tribune last week that had Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade asked him to remove the photos he would have. He insisted that his arrest was unwarranted.
Since Mr. Greenslade’s insistence last week that anyone caught posting “lewd” or “obscene” photos online – including those of injured or dead people – would be arrested and tried before the courts, members of the public have questioned whether police should have the authority to undertake this kind of censorship.
Commenting on www.tribune242, many readers also questioned why those who emailed photos of Nellie Brown have not been brought before the courts.
Toolegit242 said: “If I can remember quite vividly, when the pictures of the late Nellie Brown were exposed on the internet by a police officer, Greenslade said with his own mouth, that he will find out which of his officer did that and he would work swiftly to have them prosecuted. He has yet to do it.”
ScaredinNassau wrote: “Will a journalist fear publishing now? The Bahamas is fast becoming a police state. Citizens and visitors alike should truly fear this policy. When will the police who posted pictures of Nellie be bought to justice?”
Some fear the Commissioner’s explanation of what would be barred material was so vague that it would stifle the freedoms of the citizenry.
ScaredinNassau added: “That certainly seems vague enough to allow for loose interpretations to fit any negative comments. Bloggers, reviewers, and journalists beware!”
TalRussell used the example of posting photos of bodies at funerals saying: “I am sure the sensibilities of many Bahamians were offended by the way the mortal remains of murdered Handbag Designer Harl Taylor was displayed at his viewing, with him sitting up in his office chair behind his desk, and not stretched out in his coffin. And I don’t remember the police dispatching their officers to the Funeral Home to arrest the loved one’s of the late Comrade?
“No crime was committed and no damn ‘sensitivity police’ had to be go arrest no one,” he concluded.