Viv Richards urges Antigua to be 'vigilant' on violence

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*Sir Vivian Richards, the former West Indies cricketer, has urged Antiguans to be more vigilant against violent crime after the murder of a British couple on the Caribbean island.

Sir Vivian, a national hero in Antigua, joined around 2,000 people in a march to protest against the island's crime problem and to remember Ben and Catherine Mullany, who were murdered in an apparent bungled robbery two weeks ago on Sunday.

Police in Antigua are still hunting for at least one killer who shot Mr and Mrs Mullany, both 31, from Pontardawe, south Wales, in the head in their cottage at the Cocos Hotel and Resort on the last day of their honeymoon.

"If we need to survive, we must be vigilant," said Sir Vivian, according to a report in today's Antigua Sun.

"These are hard times and we have got to move with these times."

The Windies' leading Test run scorer of all time and former captain said it was time for the nation to come together and find ways to help solve the crime situation while calling on everyone to become more vigilant.

Antiguan police commissioner Gary Nelson, who was brought in from Canada to improve the troubled force earlier this year, called on residents to step forward with any information they may have that would help officers to solve the island's murders.

He has said his investigations were being hampered by a "code of silence" on the island.

"For the police force to work effectively, we need your help, you are our eyes and our ears," he said.

"We rely on you and we need you desperately to call us and give us information."

He said a police task force had already taken a large number of people with guns and drugs off the streets, and added: "This is the beginning of a safer Antigua and Barbuda."

Antigua's Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer also attended the ceremony to remember the victims of the nation's spiralling crime problem, including the Mullanys.

Non-governmental organisations, unions, the government, political parties and members of the private sector all took part in the National March of Solidarity against the direction in which the nation is headed, a spokesman for the Antiguan Ministry of Tourism said.

"Antiguans and Barbudans are a caring and loving people together we can, and will stop the violence," organisers said.

Mrs Mullany, a doctor, died instantly when at least one gunman burst into their isolated cottage as they slept on July 27.

The attack left her new husband, a physiotherapy student, with a bullet lodged in his head and he died at Morriston Hospital in Swansea on Sunday after being flown home.

South Wales Police and the Swansea Coroner said they could not comment on reports that the bullet that killed the newly-wed had been removed for forensic testing during the examination.

A team of five British officers have flown to Antigua to help the island's troubled police force with their investigation.

Earlier this week, the Home Office denied reports that the Scotland Yard team was held up for three days because of concerns in Whitehall that the couple's killer could, if caught, be given the death penalty.

But the Government is seeking assurances that anyone charged with the crime will not face such a sentence.