Sanctus – The Sanctarian Federal Police today, on the direction of the Public Prosecutions Service, today arrested former SCP leader Kate Cruz, and deputy leader Noreen Islington, and lodged the charges of misappropriation of public funds, and falsifying company and accounting records against them. The arrest and lodging of charges against the two former members of the House of Deputies means the case will proceed to court, and the possibility of a custodial sentence awaits the two seasoned politicians.
Lawyers for both Cruz and Islington today stressed the innocence of their clients and said that the PPS was “misguided” for proceeding with the case against them. “There is no strong evidence that my clients committed the crimes alleged by the SFP and the PPS. This will be easily disputed in court, and we are confident the judge will dismiss the case in pre-trial motions”, a joint spokesperson for Cruz’s and Islington’s separate legal teams said today.
Any hope of a speedy resolution, however, was swiftly dashed, with the PPS confirming it was not likely the Courts would take the case to be heard until early 2024 at the earliest. The case will be heard in Federal District Court for the Second District of Sanctus whose case load does have a 14 month backlog – it’s believed the high profile nature of the defendants, as well as the political importance of the case, will mean it’s moved quickly up the list.
Chancellor Ringrose, and Justice Secretary Xander Morgan, both refused to comment on the news today saying that it would be “inappropriate” and that the “government and parliament are separate to the judicial system, as it should be.”
Some Sanctarian Conservative Party members have decried the arrests as a “political witch-hunt”, something which SCP leader Julie Chrisintim was quick to dismiss saying “every step of the way the Federal Police and the PPS behaved in the most professional manner. I know it is difficult to see former colleagues, held in great esteem, to be accused of these charges, but it was not at the direction of the government, and to suggest such is a most grave charge that I would discourage upstanding party members from making”.
The announcement of these charges just 10 days before the two by-elections in Sanctus will certainly complicate matters for the SCP. Current polling suggests the DLP will take Kate Cruz’s former 14th canton constituency, with the Green Party likely to take the 2nd canton, formerly held by Islington.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor, and LOUISA SOUTER, Crime & Justice Correspondent