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PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PM to seek Cabinet approval for flood relief funds

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct. 21, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he will approach Cabinet for funds to help with flood relief.

Rowley was speaking during a joint media conference on Saturday

“I would speak ahead of the Cabinet here and indicate that I would ask Cabinet to approve and authorize TT$25 million initially to assist persons who may require assistance from the treasury. We will ensure that this money is well spent and is spent as quickly as possible on those persons who have been affected,” he said.

Heavy rainfall over the last few days have resulted in widespread flooding across Trinidad and Tobago.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected. Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,”   Rowley said after touring some of the affected areas.

According to the Prime Minister, the Defence Force, especially the Coast Guard and Fire Service have been using small boats going streets to reach residents stranded in their homes.

Meanwhile, there are no re­ports of fa­tal­i­ties as a re­sult of the floods in sections of the twin island republic.

During a press conference on Saturday, National Security Minister   Stu­art Young  made the state­ment in reference to information being circulated on  so­cial me­dia.

He told reporters that  fake in­for­ma­tion be­ing cir­cu­lat­ed on­line has caused first re­spon­ders to di­vert at­ten­tion from af­fect­ed ar­eas.

Young has also mobilised    the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to conduct an aerial reconnaissance .

The ODPM says the adverse weather situation will continue until Sunday and urged motorists to seek alternative routes where possible and be extremely vigilant of rising flood waters.

“The ODPM appeals to all persons to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” it said, adding that people should also desist from driving or walking through flood waters.

“Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away or may stall in flood waters,” the agency said.

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Serious flooding in Trinidad and Tobago

Serious flooding in Trinidad and Tobago

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 20, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Saturday said teams were working to rescue people trapped by floods and landslides caused by heavy rains here over the past 48 hours and that the full extent of the damage caused will be revealed as the water subsides in the coming days.

“This is a national disaster, the flooding is quite widespread and quite severe and it is going to cost a lot of money to bring relief to people who have been affected. Notwithstanding whatever shortages we are experiencing we will have to find the resources to help,” Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said after touring some of the affected areas.

The Met Office said that an active ITCZ continues to produce periods of rain/showers and thunderstorm activity which can lead to flash or riverine flooding as well as landslides/landslips in areas so prone. Gusty winds can be experienced in the vicinity of heavy downpours.

Flooding in La Horquetta along the east-west
corridor in Trinidad

Many parts of the country were flooded and there have been widespread reports of landslides and road blocks caused as a result.

While there have so far been no reports of deaths or injuries, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has issued a “Red Riverine Flood Alert” warning persons to take all precautions to protect life and property.

“Riverine flooding occurs when water levels in a river over-tops its banks and spills into surrounding areas. This type of flooding is more widespread and usually lasts for several days,” the Met office said, adding that currently river levels have exceeded threshold levels and some have already over spilled their banks.

In a statement early Saturday, Prime Minister Rowley said that he had been receiving “timely updates” from the relevant government agencies responsible for spearheading the ongoing rescue operations as well as those coordinating relief efforts in the communities affected by severe flooding.

He said “throughout the night and into this morning the men and women of our protective services and the various Regional Corporations have been working diligently on the ground to respond to this disaster”.

Rowley said that members of the Coast Guard and Defence Force are working to rescue those who are trapped, adding “for those of you who are still stranded I know that patience may be running thin but help is on the way”.

Rowley said that National Security Minister Stuart Young is mobilising with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to conduct an aerial reconnaissance “so that we can better ascertain the scope of the intervention required.

“The Government through its respective agencies is working to ensure that much-needed resources reach those who require assistance. In the coming days the full extent of the damage will be revealed as the water subsides. Today there are families seeking shelter at community centers and schools,” Rowley said, urging citizens to ‘continue to remain vigilant and heed the warnings and alerts from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management and the Meteorological Office”.

The OPDM said that the adverse weather situation will continue until Sunday and urged motorists to seek alternative routes where possible and be extremely vigilant of rising flood waters.

“The ODPM appeals to all persons to take the necessary precautions to preserve life and property,” it said, adding that people should also desist from driving or walking through flood waters.

“Vehicles do not provide adequate protection from flood waters. Vehicles can be swept away or may stall in flood waters,” it said.

CMC/rl/ir/2018

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EP newlogominimal

Saudi official gives new version of Khashoggi killing: Report

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Read more at: https://epeak.in/2018/10/21/saudi-official-gives-new-version-of-khashoggi-killing-report-saudi-arabia-news/

Saudi official gives new version of Khashoggi killing: Report | Saudi Arabia News

 A senior Saudi Arabian government official has laid out a new version of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that in key respects contradicts previous explanations. 

The latest account, provided by a Saudi official who requested anonymity, includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on October 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate.

An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which the senior official reiterated to Reuters.

Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was cut up but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.

Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that.

The Saudi official presented what he said were Saudi internal intelligence documents which appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi.

He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe.

He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other evidence.

This narrative is the latest Saudi account that has changed multiple times. The authorities initially dismissed reports that Khashoggi had gone missing inside the consulate as false and said he had left the building soon after entering.

When the media reported a few days later that he had been killed there, they called the accusations “baseless.”

Asked by Reuters why the government’s version of Khashoggi’s death kept changing, the official said the government initial account was based on “false information reported internally at the time”.

“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

Turkish sources say the authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate but have not released it.

Riyadh dispatched a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation but US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s death and said questions remain unanswered.

Germany and France on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died incomplete.

According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said.

To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership” the official said.”

Al-Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee who worked with (Saud) al-Qahtani and who knew Jamal from the time they both worked at the embassy in London,” he said. The official said al-Qahtani had signed off on one of his employees conducting the negotiations

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate.

An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which the senior official reiterated to Reuters. Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was cut up but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.

Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that. The Saudi official presented what he said were Saudi internal intelligence documents which appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi.

He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe. He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other evidence.

This narrative is the latest Saudi account that has changed multiple times. The authorities initially dismissed reports that Khashoggi had gone missing inside the consulate as false and said he had left the building soon after entering.

When the media reported a few days later that he had been killed there, they called the accusations “baseless.”

Asked by Reuters why the government’s version of Khashoggi’s death kept changing, the official said the government initial account was based on “false information reported internally at the time”.

“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

Turkish sources say the authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate but have not released it.

Riyadh dispatched a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation but US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s death and said questions remain unanswered.

Germany and France on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died incomplete.

According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said.

To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership” the official said.”

Al-Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee who worked with (Saud) al-Qahtani and who knew Jamal from the time they both worked at the embassy in London,” he said.

The official said al-Qahtani had signed off on one of his employees conducting the negotiations.

Chokehold

According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for “a period of time” but then release him if he ultimately refused to return to Saudi Arabia, the official said.

Things went wrong from the start as the team overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence, the official said.

Khashoggi was ushered into the consul general’s office where an operative named Maher Mutreb spoke to him about returning to Saudi Arabia, according to the government’s account.

Khashoggi refused and told Mutreb that someone was waiting outside for him and would contact the Turkish authorities if he did not reappear within an hour, the official said.

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, has told Reuters he had handed her his two mobile phones and left instructions that she should wait for him and call an aide to Turkey’s president if he did not reappear.

Back inside the consul’s office, according to the official’s account, Khashoggi told Mutreb he was violating diplomatic norms and said, “What are you going to do with me? Do you intend to kidnap me?”

Mutreb replied, “Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you,” in what the official said was an attempt at intimidation that violated the mission’s objective.

When Khashoggi raised his voice, the team panicked. They moved to restrain him, placing him in a chokehold and covering his mouth, according to the government’s account. “They tried to prevent him from shouting but he died,” the official said. “The intention was not to kill him.”

Asked if the team had smothered Khashoggi, the official said: “If you put someone of Jamal’s age in this position, he would probably die.”

Missing body

To cover up their misdeed, the team rolled up Khashoggi’s body in a rug, took it out in a consular vehicle and handed it over to a “local cooperator” for disposal, the official said. Forensic expert Salah Tubaigy tried to remove any trace of the incident, the official said.

Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi’s killers may have dumped his remains in Belgrad Forest adjacent to Istanbul, and at a rural location near the city of Yalova, 90 kilometers south of Istanbul.

Turkish investigators are likely to find out what happened to the body “before long,” a senior official said.

The Saudi official said the local cooperator is an Istanbul resident but would not reveal his nationality. The official said investigators were trying to determine where the body ended up.

Meanwhile, operative Mustafa Madani donned Khashoggi’s clothes, eyeglasses and Apple watch and left through the back door of the consulate in an attempt to make it look like Khashoggi had walked out of the building. Madani went to the Sultanahmet district where he disposed of the belongings.

The official said the team then wrote a false report for superiors saying they had allowed Khashoggi to leave once he warned that Turkish authorities could get involved and that they had promptly left the country before they could be discovered.

Sceptics have asked why so many people, including military officers and a forensics expert specialising in autopsies, were part of the operation if the objective was to convince Khashoggi to return home of his own volition.

The official said all 15 team members had been detained and placed under investigation, along with three other local suspects.

Read more at: https://epeak.in/2018/10/21/saudi-official-gives-new-version-of-khashoggi-killing-report-saudi-arabia-news//

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Barbados rocked by 4.2 magnitude earthquake

Barbados rocked by 4.2 magnitude earthquake

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct. 21, CMC – An earthquake with a  magnitude of 4.2 was recorded here on Saturday afternoon but there were no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

The Seismic Research centre (SRC) of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West indies (UWI), in Trinidad and Tobago said that the quake occurred at 4.41 p.m. (local time).

It was located Latitude: 12.29N, Longitude: 59.74W with a depth of 60 km.

The SRC said the quake was felt 92 km south of Bridgetown, 166 km north east of Scarborough, Tobago and 191 km south east of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Justice Adrian Saunders - CCJ

CCJ President to receive UWI honorary doctorate

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 19, CMC – The President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, will receive an honorary doctorate from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Justice Saunders will be conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws during the UWI graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Justice Adrian Saunders – CCJ

He will also be a guest speaker at The UWI’s graduation dinner on Friday night. Justice Saunders will be speaking on behalf of his fellow graduand Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Professor of Entomology at the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science.

“I am most appreciative of this honour that The UWI will bestow upon me and I am incredibly humbled and honoured by this recognition. I will accept it gratefully on behalf of my parents and siblings, my family, my colleagues at the CCJ, and all the people I have worked with who have all contributed to my success,” said Justice Saunders, who is the third Caribbean national to head the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

“I would be remiss if I did not also mention the role that the  UWI has played in my success. My years at UWI gave me a depth of knowledge and a foundation that I am indebted to the institution for. Those years also provided me with mentors, life-long friends and many fond memories,” he added.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines-born native  holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the UWI in 1975 and a Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago in 1977.

The CCJ President said that the UWI had over the past 70 years been able to nurture generations of Caribbean leaders, as well as making an indelible mark on the development of the region.

 

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, CARICOM, Court, Education, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

Former magistrate charged with sexual assault

by staff writer

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Oct 19, CMC – A former magistrate has been released on EC$10,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail after he was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman.

Thew attorney, who is now in private practice, will appear in court on November 27 for the start of preliminary investigations in the allegations against him.

The 68-year-old, who is accused of touching the female in different parts of her body without consent, faces the possibility of being sentenced to prison for 14 years if convicted.

According to the Criminal Code, a person commits the offence of sexual assault if he or she unlawfully penetrate the genital organs of another person with, any part of the body of another person or that person.

Sexual assault also occurs if the other person does not consent to the penetration and if he or she does not believe that the other person consents to such penetration or is reckless as to whether the other person consents or not.

Former president of the Grenada Bar Association,  Ruggles Ferguson, said that as a member of the legal profession there is no automatic disbarment if the attorney is convicted.

“Any form of discipline after a conviction has to be under in accordance with the legal profession act and it must be noted that disbarment is the ultimate form of discipline, there are other actions that can be taken like suspension,” he said.

In Montserrat a prominent lawyer has been charged with counts of sexual related charges allegedly committed against a minor since September 2015. The matter has been held up with legal battles, reaching the Courts of Appeal.

 

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Pompeo reports - Trump says story is incorrect

ABC – Pompeo Heard Alleged Audio of Khashoggi Murder

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo address the media on a trip to Saudi Arabia. (Leah Millis/AP)

By Solange Reyner    |   Thursday, 18 October 2018 08:55 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard alleged audio of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi being tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, ABC News reports.

A senior Turkish official told the news outlet the recording was played in meetings in Turkey when Pompeo visited this week, and Pompeo was given a transcript of the recordings.

Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident who often criticized the Saudi Arabian government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his writings, disappeared Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancee was waiting for him outside the consulate in a car.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi was murdered by a 15-man Saudi assassination squad that tortured him before dismembering him. The ABC report says Turkish officials now believe Khashoggi died of strangulation following a struggle that lasted eight minutes.

The State Department denied Pompeo heard the recording, telling ABC News, “Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”

Pompeo visited with Saudi King Salman and Mohammed during his visit to Turkey, and told reporters Saudi Arabian officials were finishing their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. But Pompeo also stressed the “long strategic relationship” the U.S. has with Saudi Arabia, and described the country as an “important counter-terrorism supporter.”

Read Newsmax: ABC: Pompeo Heard Audio of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder | Newsmax.com
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CCJ dismisses Titan’s million dollar claim

CCJ dismisses Titan’s million dollar claim

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 17, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice Wednesday dismissed a claim by the Belize-based Titan International Securities Inc (Titan) for US$4.46 million  in losses as a result of a search and seizure operation conducted at its offices in September 2014.

But the CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, ordered the Belize government to pay Titan vindicatory damages of BZ$100,000 (One Belize dollar=US$0.49 cents) for the way in which the operation was conducted.

The CCJ heard that in September 2014, an indictment was unsealed in the United States charging Titan, its president. Kelvin Leach, and 11 others with securities fraud, evasion of taxes, money laundering and conspiracy to commit those offences.

The US Department of Justice requested the assistance of the Belize government to have Titan’s offices searched as quickly as possible to prevent the destruction of evidence.

A magistrate acting under the mutual assistance law granted a warrant to local police officers as well as officers of the Financial Intelligence Unit to search for and seize documents which might be used as evidence.

The warrant was read to Leach, who was on the premises when the officers arrived, but it was not given to him. Additionally, he did not receive a list of items seized by the authorities and Titan’s attorney was not allowed to enter the offices during the search.

While the search was being conducted, Titan was informed, via email, by the International Financial Services Commission that its licence had been suspended. The licence has since expired, and it was never renewed.

In December 2014, Titan filed proceedings in the Supreme Court in which it alleged that the mutual assistance law was unconstitutional and that the search was executed in an unreasonable and oppressive manner, claiming that its constitutional rights were breached.

But Justice Abel disagreed with Titan’s contention that the law which granted the power to conduct the search and seizure exercise was unconstitutional. He found that there were limitations and safeguards within the law which sufficiently protected the public from a breach of their constitutional rights.

He did, however, find that the search was executed in an unreasonable and excessive, but not oppressive, manner. As a result, he concluded that Titan was entitled to compensation and awarded them US$4.46 million, representing 20 per cent of its original claim of US$22 million.

The Court of Appeal agreed that the search was carried out in an unreasonable and excessive manner but held that Titan failed to show a link between the loss claimed and the constitutional breach. In its view, the taking of the property was not the cause of the shutting down of Titan’s business; it was caused by the suspension and non-renewal of the licence.

The CCJ agreed with the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal that the law itself was not unconstitutional, but that Titan’s right to privacy had been violated.

The CCJ concluded that Titan failed to prove the link between the breach of its constitutional right and the closure of its business.

Like the Court of Appeal, the CCJ was of the view that Titan’s loss was caused by the suspension and non-renewal of the licence.

The CCJ did, however, award Titan BZ$100,000 in vindicatory damages after it considered the high-handed manner in which the search and seizure operation was conducted.

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Dr Ingrid Buffonge

An uphill Task?

Hon Dr Ingrid Buffonge

Is Premier Romeo facing an uphill task to keep his government in power

by staff writer

Popular news this week pose that Premier Donaldson Romeo’s four-year-old government faces an uphill task to complete its first five-year term in office after an independent legislator filed a motion of no confidence in his administration.
The motion by Dr. Ingrid Buffonge, a former member of the ruling People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) is scheduled to be heard on October 23.
Dr. Buffonge sits as an independent member of the Legislative Assembly, having left the PDM party after just a year. She did so ‘crossing the floor’, following much upheaval of dissatisfaction with the way she felt things were in particular in the area of health and more so with conditions especially the lack of equipment at the hospital. She, according to official sources served as a health advisor to the Minister of Health, which was part of her contractual duties to the government.
Buffonge, who received the second highest number of votes in the September 2014 elections on the PDM slate, resigned from the party a year later and two weeks ago, called for the resignation of Health Minister Delmaude Ryan. Willock had also called for Ryan’s resignation, saying that he supported Buffonge

Hon. Gregory Willock

In September 2014 general election, the PDM won seven of the nine seats in the Assembly, but since losing Buffonge, recently, in support of further grouse, personal and otherwise, Parliamentary Secretary Gregory Willock, who has acted as Minister in every Ministry except the Premier’s, formally resigned from the government and the party last week.
Prior to this, last year, Romeo dismissed Claude Hogan his agriculture minister. Earlier this week, with the pending motion in the Assembly, the crossing of the floor by Willock, putting four people on the side of the house, a call from the opposition leader for the government to resign, Hogan called on Premier Romeo to be “bold and put loyalty to country before any personal loyalty.
“There has been much change over the last week and with good reason,” he said in a statement somewhere, “Some people are looking to me to create further change to lead our nation out of the impasse our government finds itself in. I do not see the need for the constant rush to deny and exclude anyone.”
Hogan said that while he agrees that “further change has to come” it must come from the people themselves.
.
The 2014 general election was a victory for the newly established PDM, which was formed on April 30 that year, in order to contest the elections.
The party defeated the then ruling Movement for Change and Prosperity, which seats two members in the Legislative Assembly on the opposition benches.

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Caribbean Court of Justice orders release of convicted murderer

Caribbean Court of Justice orders release of convicted murderer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 17, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Wednesday ordered the release of Japhet Bennett, who had been found guilty of a 2009 murder in Belize.

Bennett had been convicted of murdering Ellis Meighan Sr. in Belize City and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013.

During his trial, Marlon Middleton, the brother in law of the murdered man denied sections of his statement to the police that had identified Bennett as standing over the body with a gun.   The jury, however, found him guilty of murder despite a submission by his attorney that there was little evidence to convict his client.

But the CCJ, by a 4-1 majority decision, allowed Bennett’s appeal after it found that there had been no other evidence which could have allowed the jury to properly assess the reliability of Middleton’s statement, and for that reason, the trial judge should have stopped the trial.

Justice Denys Barrow explained that there was no useful value in Middleton’s description of the shooter, his attire and the gun because there was no other evidence to confirm any of these matters.

He said that on the evidence “the jury would have been left to guess and could only reach a guilty verdict on a gut feeling”.

Additionally, Justice Barrow found the fact that Middleton waited two days to make the statement, in circumstances where he was first on the scene of his sister’s husband murder, undermined the reliability of his statement.

But Madame Rajnauth-Lee did not agree with the other members of the panel who heard the appeal. She contended that this was a case where an eyewitness sufficiently recognised someone known to him. In light of the very detailed description of the shooter, and the conditions in which he was identified, it was therefore a matter for the jury to determine whether to believe Middleton’s statement to the police or his denial of that statement in court.

In 2009, Mr. Middleton had given a detailed statement to the police two days after Meighan was shot and killed. He claimed that he was riding his bicycle in the vicinity of the shooting when he heard gunshots.   Middleton said that he then sped towards the area and saw a body on the ground. He said also he saw a man, who he recognised as Bennett, standing about two feet away from the body with a gun in his hand. His statement also revealed that Middleton had been approximately 40 feet away from the body, in a well-lit area, with nothing obstructing his view.  Additionally, he stated that he had known Bennett for about four months and had seen him one week before the shooting.

But at the trial Middleton denied that he had seen Bennett at the scene of the crime.

The prosecution pointed out that Middleton had given a contradictory statement to the police and that that statement was made of his own free will and was accurately recorded by a police officer, in the presence of a Justice of the Peace, and signed by Middleton.

The trial judge admitted the statement into evidence and it was read aloud to the jury. There was no other evidence linking Bennett to the shooting.

Bennett’s lawyer then requested that the judge stop the case and direct that the jury acquit his client of all charges as there was insufficient evidence linking him to the crime.

The judge refused the request and the jury eventually found Bennett guilty of murder.

The matter was then appealed to the Court of Appeal of Belize, but that court upheld. Bennett’s conviction.

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