Former Speaker of the House Julian Willock was detained by police on Tuesday morning on suspicion of human trafficking, but he was released the same day with no charges, according to a statement Mr. Willock issued yesterday.
“At around 11 a.m., I was detained, questioned and released without charges by six Caucasian United Kingdom officers,” Mr. Willock wrote. “They claim I was being investigated on suspicion of human trafficking because of some visa waivers I had obtained over the years.”
The former speaker, however, maintained his innocence.
He stated that he had “legally acquired” visa waivers through the Deputy Governor’s Office “in association with” his company Advance Marketing and Professional Services, the parent company of Virgin Islands News Online.
“Most of the visa waivers were obtained before my tenure as speaker,” he added. “It is my understanding that all persons who came via a visa waiver have since left the territory and did so as per immigration requirements.”
The Deputy Governor’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the statement, Mr. Willock added that his communication devices were still in police custody.
“I will continue to uphold the rule of law and have reverence for both the Constitution and government policies, both in my private and public life,” he wrote. “I know the people of the Virgin Islands are fully awake and still have confidence in my integrity, for it was suggested if they could not get me via the Commission of Inquiry, they had to get me another way.”
Mr. Willock went on to note that other public figures like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr. and Noel Lloyd faced “bogus allegations, trumped-up charges, and character assassination.”
“But in the end, truth and justice emerged and prevailed,” he wrote.
Past articles on VINO have also likened Mr. Willock to Nelson Mandela and Dr. King while comparing his political opponents to historical figures including Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.
Police did not respond to Mr. Willock’s claims, but Police Information Officer Akia Thomas issued a brief statement that didn’t mention him by name.
“Officers from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force arrested a 55-year-old male following an investigation into visa waiver anomalies and suspected human trafficking into the Virgin Islands,” the statement noted. “He was subsequently released under investigation. Given that this is an ongoing and complex investigation the [police force] will make no further comment in relation to it.”
Police typically don’t release the names of detained suspects unless they are charged.
Mr. Willock was appointed speaker of the House in 2019 by the Virgin Islands Party-led administration under then-Premier Andrew Fahie.
But he resigned on May 3 following a request from current Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.
The resignation came five days after Mr. Fahie’s arrest in Miami on drug-trafficking and money-laundering conspiracy charges and four days after the publication of the Commission of Inquiry report.