ST. DAVID’S, GRENADA-Five police officers charged with beating a Toronto man to death in Grenada have been granted bail.
The five officers appeared in court in the town of St. David’s. Their bail takes effect next Friday.
The officers are charged with manslaughter in the death of 39-year-old Oscar Bartholomew.
Relatives say he was beaten into a coma on Boxing Day after he hugged a plainclothes policewoman he’d mistaken for a friend.
He died a day later in hospital.
The case has touched a nerve on this tiny Caribbean island nation as demonstrators have taken to the streets to denounce what they say is endemic police brutality.
During a hearing earlier this week, hundreds of protesters marched from the courthouse to a nearby police station, demanding the accused be found guilty. A large crowd of demonstrators also gathered near the court Friday.
The prosecutor opposed bail for the officers, saying there was a risk of public disorder and vigilante justice if they were released.
But the defence pointed out that the constitution guarantees they should be released if they aren't considered a flight risk or a danger to society.
The charged officers, all constables, are Edward Gibson, Shaun Ganness, Roddy Felix, Kenton Hazzard and Wendell Sylvester.
On Thursday, Grenada police Supt. Dunbar Belfon said the criminal investigation had wrapped up, so no more charges were likely to be laid against anyone else.
An internal investigation was ongoing.
Bartholomew's friends and family have expressed outrage the officers weren't charged with murder.
Bartholomew lived in Toronto but was in his native Grenada to visit family over the holidays.
His relatives said he had stopped at the police station in St. David’s because his wife needed to use the restroom. They said he lifted the officer off the ground in a big hug before realizing she wasn’t who he thought she was.
Bartholomew's family said an independent autopsy found that he died of trauma to the head and multiple injuries to the body. A state autopsy report came to similar but less-detailed conclusions.
Grenada’s prime minister has promised a thorough investigation and said there was no reason for tourists to be nervous about visiting the island, which he described as the safest destination in the Caribbean.
A lawyer for one of the accused has called for the government of Grenada to establish a Caribbean-Canadian Commission of Inquiry in an effort to maintain good relations with Canada
A funeral is planned in Grenada for Monday.
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