The Miami Herald
October 13, 1999

Grenadians oppose release of coup leaders

 ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- (AP) -- A public apology by four men jailed in the
 bloody 1983 coup that prompted the United States to invade Grenada has set off
 a storm of debate in this Caribbean country and sparked speculation that the
 government may release them.

 The men are among 17 prisoners jailed for the executions of former Prime
 Minister Maurice Bishop and his Cabinet.

 Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said last year that emotion still ran too high to free
 the men. But he has not commented recently on the possibility.

 Meanwhile, radio shows are buzzing and newspapers are filled with letters about
 the apologies, broadcast on the island's partly government-owned television
 station on Sunday.

 Since then, hundreds of fliers and posters have appeared denouncing any
 clemency as the Oct. 19 anniversary of the assassinations approaches.

 ``No release for these mass murderers, criminals and liars -- or open the jail and
 let everybody out!'' the posters say.

 They bear pictures of the four men -- former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard
 Coard; former Ambassador to Cuba Leon Cornwall; government minister Selwyn
 Strachan and army officer Ewart Layne.

 After Bishop fled to Fort Rupert, a police and military installation, the
 revolutionaries stormed the building. A firing squad then executed Bishop and his

 The United States, fearing Grenada would become a political satellite of Cuba
 with an airfield capable of sending Cuban jets deep into South America, invaded
 six days later with support from nearby Caribbean countries.

 In his apology Sunday, Layne said: ``I must accept responsibility for what
 happened -- I so do. It is a very heavy responsibility given the magnitude of the
 events, but it is one I must bear.''

 Layne said he was the one who ordered soldiers to take Fort Rupert ``using
 military means.''

 But he said the coup was never meant to be bloody, saying the executions were
 ``a spontaneous situation which got terribly out of control.''

 Coard said he did not know where the victims were buried but claimed U.S. troops
 took the bodies away. Bishop's daughter, Nadia, led an unsuccessful effort in
 1997 to find her father's remains.

 The men's death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment by a previous