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Updated: 1 hour 47 min ago

PM rejects ‘spoil vote campaign’

6 hours 11 min ago

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has urged citizens not to heed the “spoilt ballot” lobby from Third Force Movement leader Timothy Hamel-Smith. 

Speaking at a United National Congress Diego Martin North East constituency meeting, at Massy Express stores in Maraval on Thursday night, she said “Go out and vote, that is your democratic right...you have a right to vote. When you go to vote do not spoil any ballots.” 

“If you don’t want to vote, stay home and those of you who go out to vote—put your X by the PP parties’ symbols.” 

The crowd didn’t completely fill the car park, but featured a strong local Diego Martin North East presence, mainly supporters of UNC Diego Martin North East candidate Garvin Nicholas and many youths. 

Persad-Bissessar who arrived at the meeting around 10.38 pm, after appearances at other locations including another Maraval Town Hall meeting, opened her address with the comment that she had also visited Sangre Grande and that area had “gone clear—the energy is there.” 

She said she went to San Juan/Barataria and that too “...has gone clear—PP victory.” 

The PM said she was sure Nicholas would become the next Diego Martin North East MP. 

Persad-Bissessar said a multi-section bridge would be built to transport commuters between Diego Martin and the Chaguaramas peninsula. She said the first stages involving environmental assessments and other work would be completed in 180 days and five ministries would coordinate work with the Chaguaramas Development Authority. 

Congress of the People (COP) leader Prakash Ramadhar said the PP felt the winds of change were blowing in the East-West corridor and the margins were getting wider. But he said this shouldn’t be taken for granted. 

He said People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Keith Rowley lacked respect for women and had made remarks about the PM concerning “dogs and animals.” 

“How can a leader speak like that? That sort of attitude would make the society degenerate,” he said. 

“He has no plan to save the economy...Forget the hype and gripes of the PNM, they feel they can fool people with propaganda but we’re more experienced than that. The PP will not return the PNM’s property tax.” 

National Joint Action Committee’s Kwesi Mutema warned PP members not to be overconfident and to triple their efforts and bring out every vote. 

Nicholas pledged to keep Maraval’s health centre open 24 hours a day. He outlined what he’d done for the area so far, claiming incumbent MP Colm Imbert had not told the truth about a primary school in the area and that the primary school would be opened on September 8. He also said Imbert had said spring water in Paramin wasn’t safe, but this had been tested by Water Resources technicians and was found to be drinkable.

Moonilal can be charged for wasting police time

6 hours 15 min ago

People’s National Movement (PNM) San Fernando West candidate Faris Al-Rawi says United National Congress (UNC) deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal can be jailed for wasting police time.

Speaking at a cottage meeting in Battoo Boulevard, Marabella on Thursday night, Al-Rawi denied he had committed any electoral crime by using #4 Ruth Avenue, San Fernando, as his residential address on the nomination forms filed with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).

“Roodal Moonilal say he going and write a letter to the Commissioner of Police to tell them they think I have committed an electoral crime. I want to tell Moonilal tonight and I want T&T to know it because you will tweet it, you will...I am going to report Moonilal to the police for the crime of wasting the time of the police and that, my friend, he could make a jail for. Bat in your crease bossman,” Al-Rawi said as the audience cheered and waved red PNM flags.

He said that there were two laws that governed Members of Parliament and how they qualify. These are the Representation of the People's Act Chapter 2:01 and the Constitution of T&T, 1976, as amended.

“First of all the Constitution has two sections, section 47 and section 48 and all that the Constitution says is that you have to be 18 years old, you have to be resident in T&T, you have to have no electoral crimes under your belt and you have to be somebody who is not an undischarged bankrupt. That means you ent thief nobody or lose all your business,” Al-Rawi said.

Saying he was born in T&T, Al-Rawi said it didn’t matter where he lived.

“I was born right here and my name is Faris Al-Rawi. I am over 18. I have resided in T&T for a period of at least two years immediately preceding the date of my nomination. I live here my whole life. I am not, by virtue of any act or acknowledgement or allegiance, obedient or adherent to any foreign state or power. I don’t have dual nationality. I am not a citizen of another state. I am not an undischarged bankrupt. I am not insane, they know that because I am a member of the PNM. I am not a person with a sentence of death imposed upon me. I am not serving a sentence of imprisonment for 12 months. So how can they challenge my candidacy?” Al-Rawi asked.

He also questioned how Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie got certified as a member of the UNC 24 hours before his nomination when he was a member of the Congress of the People. Al-Rawi also noted that his Independent opponent Jowelle De Souza had listed her address as #58 Independence Avenue, San Fernando.

Al-Rawi said he spent half of his time in San Fernando and the other half in Port-of-Spain. He also noted that he practised law in both places. On Thursday, Moonilal told supporters at a cottage meeting in Ste Madeleine that he planned to report Al-Rawi to the police for making a false declaration on his nomination form.

Homeless man stabbed to death

6 hours 18 min ago

Police are investigating the stabbing death of a homeless man who was identified only as “Santana” on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, early yesterday.

According to police reports, pedestrians noticed the body of the man around 5 am on the sidewalk near the Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) building. 

Officers of the Port-of-Spain CID were called in and cordoned off the area. 

Police said they were told that the man had an altercation with another homeless man and was stabbed in the chest.

Investigators say they intend to review closed circuit television cameras to help with their investigations. 

The murder toll now stands at 286, whereas the figure for the same period last year was 294. (Jensen La Vende)

No leads in escape of Carrera inmates

6 hours 19 min ago

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams says investigators are working on all possible leads to recapture the two prisoners who escaped from the Carrera Island Prison on Independence Day. 

Steve McGilvery and Leroy “Redo” Mohammed escaped from the maximum security section of the prison, located off Chaguaramas, as this country celebrated its 53rd anniversary of independence.

McGilvery is serving a sentence of 30 years with hard labour for unlawful killing and Mohammed was sentenced to ten years after he was convicted of robbery with violence, robbery with aggravation and possession of firearms. 

Two prisons officers have been suspended pending an internal investigation into the jailbreak.

In an interview yesterday, at the distribution of textbooks and school supplies to underprivileged children at the Beetham Joint Community Centre, Williams said: “The Police Service has a mechanism in place to pursue all information, all leads and we intend to have them recaptured and returned to prison.” 

Williams said there had been no sightings of the prisoners.

Officials at the Prison Service said internal investigations were nearly complete into the July 24 prison break while the Police Service was still conducting inquiries. 

Three prisoners, armed with guns and a hand grenade, escaped from the Port-of-Spain Prison, killing a police officer on patrol. One of the prisoners, Allan “Scanny” Martin, was shot dead minutes later after he was cornered at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. 

Another escapee, Hassan Atwell, was murdered in East Port-of-Spain a day later, and the third man, Christopher “Monster” Selby, surrendered to police.

CoP: 6,500 officers on the beat for Monday

6 hours 25 min ago

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams says there will be an adequate number of police officers on duty during the general election on Monday.

Williams said this during the distribution of textbooks and school supplies to underprivileged children at the Beetham Joint Community Centre yesterday.

Seventeen students from primary and secondary schools were assisted with their textbooks and supplies for the new school term. 

The items cost $25,000 and were funded by the Inter-Agency Task Force’s Heart and Mind Foundation. 

“The Police Service under the law has a responsibility to have a police presence at all polling stations and we will have full coverage. 

“All polling stations will be covered by a police presence and across all communities and there will be mobile patrols running throughout election day,” he said. 

Williams said Commonwealth and Caricom observers were briefed and updated on the policing plan and how the Police Service was going to ensure a safe and secure election.

Williams said officers who were out of the country on vacation leave had not been recalled but officers in the country were recalled. 

“By way of numbers we have 6,500 officers combined. 

“There are 2,199 polling stations and we more than adequately cover all polling stations. 

“We have back-up systems if there is any public order requirement in the day or in the night and we put all systems in place to make sure there is a safe election,” he said.

During the event, Williams said Beetham should be re-labelled in a positive way.

He said the centre should be used as a homework centre and the Police Service was dedicated to assisting the young people.

Backpay blues for new Govt

6 hours 31 min ago

Whether the People’s National Movement (PNM) or the People’s Partnership is voted into government on Monday, Public Service Association president Watson Duke said millions of dollars in retroactive payments must be made to health workers of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA).

Although the final cost of the backpay for doctors and nurses is still being calculated, Duke expects it to be paid by month-end. 

Responding to statements by SWRHA chief executive officer Anil Gosine that backpay would be distributed within the next two months, Duke said, “They gave us a commitment that it would be paid in October but we rejected that; therefore they moved forward and paid the new salaries at August month-end. I think if that is being done, I expect the rest to be paid by September month-end, however the politics swing.” 

He added, “It is all about patience and we will see how it goes. We don’t want to jump it too soon so we will take our time and allow it to happen, then make a decision if there is a case. Based on the normal order of things elsewhere and historically, it should be a month after the increase is paid,” Duke said.

Speaking at the opening of the $10 million Palo Seco Health Centre yesterday, Gosine said when the final cost had been determined, the Ministry of Health would approach the Finance Ministry for funds. He said the SWRHA had always been in the habit of paying their workers and doctors. Nurses had already begun getting their salaries with a 14 per cent increase, he said.

“We are working on the backpay now. As you would know South West is the largest RHA. Other RHAs are also working on their backpay. We have to do our auditing because we would not like to give backpay without doing a proper audit and that is a major process, and that started in August. It should be completed in the next month or two, but we will put extra resources on it to get that going,” Gosine said. 

“You have to remember it is not only the nurses, it is also backpay for MPATT members which are the doctors. All the other staff will be getting their backpay. I can’t give you the final figure at this point in time as it is still being computed. I’m hoping they get it before Christmas,” Gosine added.

New Health Centre

The new Palo Seco Health Centre replaced the old outreach centre along the SS Erin Road. The building, Gosine said, was constructed by Pioneer Construction at a cost of $9.5 million and was outfitted with $.5 million worth of equipment. Work began in July 2014 and finished in August. He said the fully air-conditioned facility will receive its first batch of patients on Monday. Staff from the old building, who were temporarily transferred to the Erin Health Centre, will return. The new facility will also be open five days a week.

SWRHA deputy chairman Urich Birbal added that the health centre had a Point of Care Testing system which facilitated the speedy processing of laboratory tests. This allows the attending doctor to make a diagnosis within half an hour of the patient undergoing tests.

EBC clears Al-Rawi

8 hours 35 min ago

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has given People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate for San Fernando West Faris Al-Rawi the stamp of validity to run for the constituency in Monday’s general election.

In a letter written to election agent Irwin Elder yesterday, Returning Officer for San Fernando West, Eddison Ramdeen, confirmed the validity of Al-Rawi’s candidacy for the electoral district of San Fernando.

Ramdeen’s letter was in response to a query from Elder following questions over the legitimacy of Al-Rawi’s candidacy by Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal.

Earlier this week, Moonilal suggested that Al-Rawi’s candidacy was not valid as he did not live at the residence for which he had registered as a candidate. Moonilal claimed that because Al-Rawi lived outside of the constituency and not at Ruth Avenue where he had registered, his candidacy could be challenged in a petition following elections.

Moonilal is the campaign manager for UNC candidate for the constituency Raziah Ahmed.

Yesterday, however, Elder said Al-Rawi maintained a family home at the Ruth Avenue address in San Fernando.

He said Al-Rawi had received advice from attorney Douglas Mendes SC, a recognised expert in election petitions throughout the Caribbean, who had confirmed there was no basis in law to challenge his candidacy.

The letter quoted Mendes as saying form 39 in the Representation of the People Act required candidates to state their address, but did not specify residential address.

In an article in this newspaper yesterday, former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC also said no court of law could uphold a petition to remove Al-Rawi.

Elder said yesterday that Moonilal was purposefully ignoring the obvious flaws in his argument, both in law and simple logic, and it was clearly a gross attempt on his part to discourage electors from exercising their constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Despite this, charges and counter charges flew again yesterday between Moonilal and Al-Rawi.

During the PP’s motorcade along the East-West corridor, Moonilal told reporters a letter was sent to the acting Police Commissioner and EBC by a San Fernando West constituent, regarding an alleged “false declaration” in Al-Rawi’s nomination which indicated his address as San Fernando. He claimed Al-Rawi’s address on a vehicle purchased recently was Federation Park.

Moonilal said Al-Rawi was free to live anywhere and contest San Fernando West, but wasn’t free to make a false declaration of an address since that was perjury and the UNC would challenge it. He said a petition was being drafted by lawyers on this. He also said there was a process by which constituents could be warned not to vote if a breach had been committed.

However, Al-Rawi told T&T Guardian that he had written the EBC and was informed his nomination was valid. 

He also said the PNM had in turn written the acting Police Commissioner seeking the immediate investigation of Moonilal for allegedly undertaking undue influence contrary to the Representation of the People Act and trying to compel voters not to vote for Al-Rawi by falsely claiming his nomination was invalid,

Prior to yesterday’s PP motorcade, UNC Toco/Sangre Grande candidate Brent Sancho was asked about allegations by PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley regarding an alleged Range Rover purchase and about allegations by ILP leader Jack Warner about a “tape” he had in his possession. Sancho replied briefly that he had put all matters in his attorneys’ hands.

PM gets ‘Bye Bye’ song

8 hours 49 min ago

Yesterday’s People’s Partnership motorcade through the East-West corridor, which attracted scores of supporters along the route, also encountered picong from some PNMites along the way.

The main form of heckling directed at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was the People’s National Movement’s campaign song “Bye Bye, Kamla,” which was sung by pockets of PNMites outside campaign offices in the eastern regions.

The motorcade was geared towards promoting the governing PP’s profile in the East-West corridor, the main battleground for Monday’s general election.

While the PP took to the corridor electorate via vehicles, the Opposition PNM also raised its election profile after earlier this week calling on members of the public to wear red yesterday ahead of Monday’s election. This call was heeded by PNMites in various parts of the East-West corridor and was visible in Port-of-Spain also.

Yesterday’s events were a build-up to today’s rallies by the PP, PNM and Independent Liberal Party (ILP) in the final surge of activity ahead of Monday’s election. 

By yesterday evening, stages, tents and other structures were already in place at Aranguez Savannah, San Juan, for the PP’s final rally today. The arrangements featured a similar layout to what the PP used in 2010 when it won that general election.

The PNM’s stage construction and other preparations were also in the final stages at Eddie Hart Grounds, Tacarigua. On this occasion the stage is closer to the Priority Bus Route and faces south, unlike other election rallies when it was close to the south and faced north.

The ILP is holding a Central Trinidad rally today as well.

Yesterday’s yellow-themed PP motorcade in which the PM participated, which was due to have left Sangre Grande around 10.30 am, didn’t get going until around noon heading west in a cavalcade of huge trailer trucks, music trucks, yellow-painted jeeps and vans, maxi taxis and cars filled with supporters, blaring music. 

The line of vehicles began from the PP offices of Toco/Sangre Grande candidate Brent Sancho. One of the co-ordinators, UNC deputy leader Roodal Moonilal, said the motorcade was scheduled to pass through Arima, Tunapuna, St Augustine/Curepe, St Joseph, San Juan, Morvant Junction and end at the Waterfront in Port-of-Spain, where a brief gathering was to be held.

As the motorcade made its way out of Sangre Grande, groups of UNC supporters—of all ages—alongside the road, in galleries, and outside some businesses waved flags of support to the vehicles, hoping for a glimpse of the PM. PP Minister Christine Newallo-Hosein and other officials in the lead truck waved to supporters. UNC officials and aides in some vehicles tossed UNC jerseys, whistles, horns and other PP paraphernalia to supporters along the way. 

As the procession passed the Sangre Grande offices of PNM candidate Glenda Jennings-Smith, some of her supporters looked out at the PP motorcade. Further down the road, some red-clad PNMites swayed to the calypso from the PP trucks—but pointedly made it clear they were voting PNM.

Passing through the Arima location, Congress of the People MP Rodger Samuel joined Hosein on the truck platforms, waving to spectators and supporters in the town. 

Arima Mayor George Hadeed—campaign manager of PNM’s D’Abadie candidate Ancil Antoine—walked through the spectators looking at the procession. Hadeed, wearing a red PNM shirt, shook hands jovially with Samuel. But one of Hadeed’s relatives, outside a store, watched the motorcade, humming the PNM’s “Bye Bye Kamla” song.

A number of PNM supporters wearing red jerseys also looked on. As the procession passed along Queen Street, a couple of people held up red PNM T-shirts to the PP groups.

Several youths in the area were also photographed stomping on yellow PP jerseys on the ground.

At the end of one block, a man waved a PNM flag at the vehicles as they passed and he and two other PNM supporters subsequently began tossing remarks vigorously at the passing PP convoy and giving them the thumbs-down. 

Occupants of the PP vehicles didn’t react and UNC executive officials in one vehicle to whom some of the remarks were directed simply laughed it off.

Less hostile rivalry occurred between flag bearers of the PNM, COP and PP, who did a “wave-off” of sorts on one street.

Further into Arima, between Queen and Farfan Streets, a PNM music truck—which had been silent when the convoy entered Arima—blared “Bye Bye Kamla” to compete with the PP’s music as vehicles passed.

Long wait for some

Later along the way, the motorcade slowed as it encountered groups of COP and other supporters outside of Arima, heading into D’Abadie.

By the time the motorcade reached Lopinot around 4 pm, some supporters along that leg said they had been waiting almost four hours to see the motorcade.

Persad-Bissessar, who joined other candidates including the COP’s Wendell Eversely on a van, distributed jerseys to groups of people who clustered around the vehicle. A group of KFC employees gathered outside the compound to take pictures of the PM.

Commenting briefly on how she felt, Persad-Bissessar said, “Excellent....” Dressed in yellow shirt, cap and dark glasses against the glaring sunshine, the PM gave out jerseys and gave a thumbs-up. 

Along the way, pockets and groups of PNMites outside PNM campaign offices in Arouca/Maloney, Tunapuna, Bon Air and Mt Lambert heckled the PM by singing the “Bye Bye Kamla” song as the motorcade passed.

She was joined by other PP candidates Lincoln Douglas, Wayne Munroe, COP leader Prakash Ramadhar and Patricia Metivier as the motorcade made its way through the respective areas they were contesting. The motorcade slowed as at it reached the Barataria/San Juan constituency by 7.45 pm and reached the Waterfront close to 9 pm.

OWTU launches anti-UNC campaign in Pointe-a-Pierre

8 hours 55 min ago

The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) has launched a campaign in the Pointe-a-Pierre constituency to discourage residents from voting for the UNC’s candidate David Lee. 

Armed with flyers and a public announcement system, president general Ancel Roget and union executives took to the streets to spread their message yesterday. 

Roget, who spoke with journalists at St Margaret’s Junction, Claxton Bay, said the purpose of the campaign was to remind constituents of the neglect they had faced under the People’s Partnership MP Errol Mc Leod, a former president general of the OWTU. 

“We intend to go as far as time will permit us to go throughout the PP constituency to remind the members of these communities the type of representation they got from the UNC,” Roget said. 

“The type of representation they got from an MP who came to them on the last occasion and I’m certain that they would remember five years ago Errol Mc Leod coming to them asking them for their vote and they didn’t see him after that.”

Roget said Mc Leod turned his back on residents and Lee would do the same.

“So all of the problems they experienced, Mc Leod would have turned their backs on them. Today you have a similar situation where you have an outsider, someone who does not live in the constituency, but coming again for their vote and support to be their MP.”

Roget said the OWTU wanted residents to search their consciences before casting their votes.

“We want to remind them of all of these issues that at the end of the day will affect their level of governance and we want to ask them to search their conscience and not vote for the UNC, vote out Kamla and vote out any representative that comes representing the UNC.” (SR)

Hurried contracts at Petrotrin

Roget said he had information that contracts were being drawn up and signed in Petrotrin before the general election on Monday. 

“We have the facts where Petrotrin today has been raped and plundered through corruption. As we speak right now they are hurriedly signing up contracts that will guarantee them money in their pockets for the next five years,” said Roget. 

“On the eve of a general election you have a state-owned company signing up contracts, awarding contracts, putting money in the pockets of their friends guaranteeing a better quality of life for them.”

Commenting on fluctuating oil prices, Roget said the damage would not be caused by falling prices, but rather falling production. 

“I think what will affect the economy even worse is that in the face of falling oil prices we have falling volumes in terms of the amount of barrels of oil we produce daily. That is what we are faced with and we are faced with that simply because of bad management.”

He said when Petrotrin underperformed, the treasury and the people in the areas surrounding the company suffered. 

“So that when Petrotrin is underperforming it is people from St Margaret’s, Claxton Bay, and Marabella that immediately suffer but more importantly the entire country suffers because Petrotrin cannot make its contributions to the treasury.”

Autopsy shows wife, kids shot dead

8 hours 58 min ago

“What did we miss?”

This is the question that now haunts the family members of Amanda Morris after an autopsy revealed Morris and her two sons were murdered and her husband, Lyndon Beharry, committed suicide.

Morris’s eldest sister, Cadine Mohammed, who lives in Claxton Bay, said the family was baffled by the tragedy.

The family of four were found in a bedroom of their New Jersey home on Tuesday by emergency personnel who responded to a fire at the residence. 

Morris, 29, and Beharry, 35 were in a 12-year common law relationship. Their sons—Brandon, seven, and Brian, four, were born in New Jersey. 

“What sign did we miss? This is what is hitting us hard. We didn’t have a thought to say they had a problem that he would have done this,” Mohammed told the T&T Guardian.

“We don’t know how to think, I am still trying to wrap my head around it. The baffling part is we never saw any sign; there was no indication of anything like this.”

Mohammed said the photos of the family on the Guardian’s front page on Wednesday were taken during a family trip to Atlantic City two weekends ago.

“The pictures of them on the front page, you look at those and tell me if you can see anything wrong with that family? Those pictures were taken just weekend gone, when they went on a family trip.”

As for the murder weapon, a gun, Mohammed said her guess was as good as anyone else’s.

“We have no idea where he could have gotten a gun. I know my sister and I know she would not allow a gun in the house with her children.”

Mohammed said as the eldest of five sisters, she helped take care of Morris while they were growing up. However, she may not get to tell her sister goodbye as she is experiencing problems with arrangements to travel to the US for the funerals. 

“I went to the US embassy, but they told me there are no special considerations for times like these. I don’t think I’ll be able to say goodbye to my baby sister.”

Although a date has not been set for the funerals, Mohammed fears her time is running out.

“I had overstayed my time the last time I was in the US and now I feel like I will not get to see my sister one last time.”

She said the family would most likely be cremated together in New Jersey.

Wife, children murdered

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 16:22

Police in New Jersey has classified the death of a family of four as a murder-suicide. 

According to the New Jersey Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, this was confirmed during an autopsy.

Lyndon Shane Beharry, 35, shot dead his wife and two children before setting their Joline Avenue, Long Branch home ablaze late Tuesday night, confirming authorities' suspicion of a murder-suicide.

A report from nj.com stated that while the cause of death is still pending additional studies, which will not be available for several weeks, all four individuals have injuries that are consistent with gunshot wounds, the prosecutor's office said.

The deaths of 29-year-old Amanda Morris and her sons, Brandon Beharry, seven and Brian Beharry, four, have been ruled homicides. 

Beharry's sole injury was determined to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the prosecutors office said.

The post-mortem examinations were conducted by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner's office.

Beharry, a mechanic with the city’s Public Works Department, was described as “an excellent mechanic and a very good-natured person” by his boss Fred Migliaccio. 

Beharry’s sister-in-law, Cadine Mohammed, told the T&T Guardian her sister met Beharry in New Jersey about 12 years ago, and even though the two never got married, they seemed the perfect couple to family and friends. 

--NJ Advance Media's Alex Napoliello contributed to this report.

No legal basis to challenge Al-Rawi

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 10:46

PNM’s San Fernando West candidate Faris Al-Rawi cannot be removed as a candidate in the 2015 election, even if it is proven that there was an error in his address, says former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj.

Saying Al-Rawi is not guilty of committing any election offence, Maharaj added there was no court of law in T&T which would uphold a petition to remove Al-Rawi. 

“Assuming that the declaration is false and I am not saying that it is, an election petition cannot affect his candidacy or change the result of the election,” Maharaj said.

He explained that an election petition had to do with the fairness of the election process.

“Where a person lives as a candidate has no bearings to challenge the result of an election or the candidacy. 

“In T&T a person can live anywhere and be a candidate for any constituency. It does not challenge the eligibility of the candidate. No court will entertain such a petition to challenge the result of an election for that reason,” Maharaj said.

He noted that only if a person had dual citizenship could that candidacy be challenged. 

On Wednesday, deputy political leader of the UNC Dr Roodal Moonilal gave notice  he was preparing a petition to challenge Al-Rawi’s candidacy on the basis that he breached the Representation of the People’s Act. 

Moonilal produced a certified copy for a vehicle, belonging to Al-Rawi, bearing the address #1 Tobago Avenue, Federation Park, Port-of-Spain. 

Moonilal also said he had utility bills to show that Al-Rawi did not live in San Fernando.

Cops called in as two letters fall off

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:59

Police have been called in to investigate an incident where two letters were unscrewed from the new Mayaro Fire Station sign causing them to fall off, Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) chairman Jearlean John said.

John said she was contacted after the letters fell off yesterday morning.

The fire station was opened by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last Sunday. She had noted that the fire station had been promised by the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration since 1962 and was delivered 53 years later by her People’s Partnership (PP) administration.

Hazarie Ramdeen, campaign manager of United National Congress (UNC) candidate Rushton Paray had confirmed to T&T Guardian that the letters “y” and “r” on the sign had fallen off. 

Other Mayaro constituency officials said Udecott, which had completed the building, had been contacted to repair the sign.

John subsequently said Udecott had put the matter in the hands of the police after it was found that the letters had been unscrewed.

Asked if she suspected vandalism, John said: “The letters would not have ‘fallen off’ just like that since they had been screwed on firmly. For them to fall down, they had to be unscrewed but we have since screwed them back on.”

National Security Minister Carl Alfonso did not answer calls. He and other PP ministers met for the final Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office, St Clair, yesterday. The media were notified just before noon that the usual post-Cabinet media briefing would not be held.

Closing rallies, motorcades

Meanwhile, ahead of tomorrow’s final PP rally at Aranguez today the PP coalition will hold a motorcade along the East-West Corridor from east to west.

Persad-Bisessar spoke about the event at PP’s meeting on Wednesday in Sangre Grande, saying various constituencies can join in.

The motorcade starts at the Sangre Grande Police Station at 10 am and will continue along the Eastern Main Road through the various constituencies, culminating with a public meeting at 7.30 pm at the Port-of-Spain waterfront where the Parliament is located.

PNM’s Balisier House secretariat stated they had no immediate details of any public meetings today but hierarchy officials said constituencies were focusing on fine-tuning administrative operations and election machinery for Monday’s polls.

Stages were also being completed at Eddie Hart Grounds, Macoya, where PNM stages its final rally tomorrow afternoon.

This will be preceded by a motorcade, starting at 11 am from the Brian Lara Promenade in the west. Contingents will then meet PNM motorcades from South and Central Trinidad at Grand Bazaar to proceed to Eddie Hart Grounds.

The Independent Liberal Party (ILP) will also hold its final rally on Saturday at Montrose, Chaguanas, according to  former UNC member Winston “Gypsy” Peters who confirmed he will be singing on the ILP’s platform for the rally. It starts around 3 pm.

Move to free T&T student in Saudi

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:49

T&T’s ambassador to Uganda Patrick Edwards intends to travel to Saudi Arabia to secure the release of T&T national Tariq Shamoon Mohammed.

Mohammed, 30, of Mohammedville, El Socorro, was detained on suspicion of being a terrorist after landing in Saudi Arabia on August 21.

The T&T Guardian understands Edwards was informed of Mohammed’s detention and up to yesterday was making several telephone calls attempting to secure his release.

Mohammed’s wife, Saudah, along with their 16-month-old son was released by Saudi officials hours after they were detained on August 21.

Mohammed, a fourth-year student, was due to complete his degree in Arabic and theology studies at the University of Medinah next June.

Having lived in Saudi Arabia for the past seven years, Mohammed’s family yesterday stressed he was not involved in any illegal or corrupt activities and that the family had never before experienced any problems traveling to and from Saudi Arabia.

Seeking to explain why a picture bearing his son’s name under a foreign image claiming the individual was involved in terrorist activities had been circulated both locally and internationally, Mohammed’s father Shamoon Mohammed, who is radio host with 106.1FM, said: 

“Somebody set up that picture claiming he is a terrorist. He is not involved in anything like that. He is a good student with high grades and he went back to complete his last academic year.”

Shamoon wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday appealing for help to secure his son’s freedom.

Contacted yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said, via text message: “We have sought contact with Saudi authorities on the matter.”

Asked why someone would embark on such a damaging move threatening his son’s freedom and that of his family, Shamoon called on local authorities to probe what he claimed was the “malicious intent” by some to land his son in trouble.

Shamoon speculated that it might even be rival students in Trinidad who were behind the plot.

Revealing that his son, as well as his own family, had been visited by officials from the Ministry of National Security in June and questioned in relation with the matter, Shamoon said while they were grateful Tariq had been given the opportunity to study in Saudi Arabia, he wanted the principles of fair play and justice applied as his son was an international student who had been mistakenly identified as a terrorist.

Shamoon said his son and wife had been traveling with a large sum of cash in order to pay for their personal expenses which included food, housing, medical bills and to purchase household items from that country for relatives in T&T.

Jailbreak foiled at Arouca prison

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:44

Another prisoner attempted to escape from the Remand Prison at Golden Grove, Arouca, yesterday but he was quickly held by prisons officers before he escaped over a fence.

Up to late yesterday evening, he was being questioned by senior officers at the prison. The identity of the prisoner was not released.

Meanwhile, two prisons officers have since been suspended and investigations are continuing after two prisoners escaped from custody at the Carrera Island Prison on Monday.

Prisoners Steve McGilvery and Leroy “Redo” Mohammed remained at large up to late yesterday evening.

Police said McGilvery was serving a sentence of 30 years with hard labour for unlawful killing and Mohammed was sentenced to ten years after he was convicted for robbery with violence, robbery with aggravation and possession of firearms. 

The police are asking for members of the public to contact them if they have information on their whereabouts.

The Police Service described McGilvery as having a scorpion tattoo on the right side of his neck, an eagle tattoo on his chest and upper left arm and a tattoo of the words “Only God can judge me” on his stomach.

Mohammed, 34, was serving a 12-year sentence for robbery with aggravation. He has a distinguishing bullet wound scar near his Adam’s apple.

Members of the public are advised that both men are considered to be armed and dangerous and should not be approached if spotted. 

If seen, citizens are asked to call the emergency lines E999 or 555 or to contact the nearest police station with relevant information, the release said.

The escape at the Port-of-Spain Prison on July 24 in which a police officer and one of the escapees were killed is still under investigations, senior officials said. 

Three prisons officers were suspended as a result but the breakout is still under inquiry.

Assistant Police Commissioner Carlton Alleyne said members of the public should not harbour the two men who escaped.

Alleyne said the officers were working round-the-clock to capture the men.

“It is an offence to harbour them and people should not be harbouring them and anyone who has information should contact the police or nearest police station. We are vigorously searching for them,” he added.

T&T family in disbelief

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:37

Even as US officials investigate whether the death of a family of four in New Jersey was a murder/suicide, relatives of the deceased in T&T say they don’t believe Lyndon Shane Beharry could have been capable of taking the lives of his wife and children.

Beharry’s sister-in-law, Cadine Mohammed, told the T&T Guardian relatives could not believe her brother-in-law would have committed such an act, describing him as the ultimate family man and very loving. 

Beharry, his common-law wife, Amanda Morris, and their two children—Brandon and Brian—were found dead in their New Jersey home when emergency personnel responded to reports of a fire on Tuesday. 

Relatives are waiting for autopsies on the family to find out the cause of their deaths.

Mohammed said her sister met Beharry in New Jersey about 12 years ago and even though the two never got married, they seemed the perfect couple to family and friends. 

“Shane Beharry was the ultimate family man. He was a most loving person,” an emotional Mohammed said. 

“Manda and Shane... when they were in a group they would make a room light up. They made everyone around them happy.

“Of course, like anyone they would have had small problems but there was never anything to suggest something like this would happen,” she added.

Mohammed, who lives in Claxton Bay, said she spoke to her sister and nephews via phone almost daily but Morris never spoke of any problems.

She added: “We are just sitting here, listening to the news like everyone and wondering what happened. She never told me of anything that would have suggested something like this. She never sounded down and the children never said anything either.”

She said at this time relatives in T&T could only wait for news from those living in New Jersey.

“My parents live there too so we are just waiting for them to tell us whatever news they get. We are a very close-knit family and this has shocked us all,” she added. 

Mohammed said the funerals of the four would take place in New Jersey but she could not say when. 

Busy politicians blank UWI students forum

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:32

A crowd of University of the West Indies (UWI) students were left upset and disappointed after representatives of the People’s National Movement (PNM) and, initially, the United National Congress (UNC), blanked a “political talks” session organised by their Political Science Society at the St Augustine Campus yesterday.

Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie “turned up late and left early,” a student complained, and they did not get to ask him enough questions. Tewarie said he had to wait until Cabinet meeting was over. He gave a detailed breakdown of the PP’s manifesto, answered a couple of questions and then asked to leave.

“I have some very important things to do, like go in my constituency and ask people to vote for me,” he said. 

UWI guild vice-president, Nikolai Edwards, son of slain prison escapee Hassan Atwell, expressed anger as he addressed the group of students gathered in the auditorium of the Learning Resource Centre.

“This is quite appalling. They are sending a message to the youths. Election is Monday,” Edwards said, after they had waited more than half-an-hour after the scheduled start for PNM and UNC representatives to arrive.

Political leaders of several of the smaller parties, including Gary Griffith of the Alliance of Independents, Nalini Dial of the National Coalition for Transformation, David Abdulah of the Movement for Social Justice, and independent candidate, Phillip Alexander, had arrived and were seated at the head table.

They were hoping to engage Faris Al-Rawi, public relations officer of the PNM, and Dr Bhoe Tewarie of the People’s Partnership Government on their manifestos, Edwards said.

He said the two parties rushed to have discussions with business and other groups but were not interested in the nation’s young people.

Political scientist, Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, head of UWI’s political science department, addressing the students, echoed Edwards.

“I agree with the students that the youths are not being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“You would expect that with 18,000 youths at UWI they would be rushing down here to get their votes,” he said.

Dana accused cries jail bias

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:26

Rajaee Ali, reputed gang leader and murder accused in the Dana Seetahal, SC, case is threatening to sue the Commissioner of Prisons over his allegedly inhumane treatment in prison. 

Ali, who has been in remand at the Port-of-Spain State Prison at Frederick Street since being charged with conspiring to murder a radio announcer in December last year, is claiming that prison authorities have treated him unfairly by subjecting him to solitary confinement at the prison. 

In a pre-action protocol letter issued to Prisons Commissioner Sterling Stewart yesterday, which was obtained by the T&T Guardian, Ali’s lawyer, Gerald Ramdeen, alleged the security measures put in place for the former LifeSport co-ordinator breached both his constitutional and fundamental human rights.

In particular, Ramdeen is taking issue with the fact that since his detention, Ali has not been allowed the one hour “airing time” afforded to all prisoners and has been blocked from attending weekly prayers with his fellow Muslim inmates. 

“As the claimant is the only prisoner made to suffer these deplorable conditions, one wonders whether the actions of the prison authorities that are under your control are deliberately singling out the claimant for this type of treatment. 

In addition to being denied his daily exercise and weekly religious service, Ramdeen also took issue with the general conditions in the prison which his client had to endure. 

“The claimant complains of the cell not having any furniture, no ventilation, no artificial or natural lighting. He has to relieve himself in a slop pail which he himself has to empty and clean twice per day at the very limited times that he is allowed out of his cell to bathe and tub. 

“The cell is infested with rodents and insects,” Ramdeen said as he described the conditions as unhealthy and inhabitable.

More info

Ali, whose family operates the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen’s mosque in Carapo, Arima, shot to fame last year after it was revealed he was a co-ordinator in the controversial LifeSport programme. 

In December last year, Ali and five members of his mosque were charged with conspiring to murder SLAM 100.5 radio announcer Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory. They were also slapped with charges under the Anti-Gang Act which precluded them from being granted bail. 

On July 27, this year, Ali was among 12 members of the mosque who were charged for the murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal who was assassinated in Woodbrook on May 4 last year. 

Ali’s younger bother, Ishmael, is charged with both crimes while his older brother, Hassan, is only charged with Seetahal’s murder.

 

Special voting going smoothly

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 02:24

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) yesterday reported “a lot of people” coming in to exercise their democratic rights as special voters in San Fernando and at its head office at Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, ahead of today’s closure of special voting in those areas.

The situation was briefly confirmed by EBC chief elections officer Ramesh Nanan yesterday. 

Speaking to the T&T Guardian by telephone, Nanan said all EBC systems were ready for Monday’s general election.

On special voting, which began on September 1, Nanan said the total number of special voters was 18,727. He could not say how much of this figure had so far voted. He, however, said EBC had noted large numbers voting in San Fernando and the EBC’s Frederick Street head office.

EBC stations established at Frederick Street, San Fernando and Tobago for special voters close at 3 pm today, he added.

He said there had also been no major complaints in the voting exercise so far.

Also contacted yesterday, People’s National Movement (PNM) general secretary Ashton Ford said the party had received no complaints of any problems with special voters. UNC secretariat officials were unavailable.

Meanwhile, National Security Minister Carl Alfonso, speaking to T&T last evening, said all upgraded security measures were being implemented for Monday’s general election activities across T&T. 

He said all police officers have been recalled from leave and supplementary Defence Force personnel were expected to be in the system within the next 24 hours.

“You will be seeing a higher presence of security personnel on the ground and roving in areas ensuring that everyone is comfortable to cast their ballot wherever in the country they may be,” he said.

He assured that systems will also be in place for tomorrow’s rallies by the bigger political parties at the Aranguez Savannah, San Juan, (People’s Partnership) and Eddie Hart Savannah, Tacarigua (PNM).

 

PTSC takes back pay loan

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 02:21

Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) chairman Dr Vincent Lasse says $57 million has been borrowed from Republic Bank to settle outstanding payments to bus workers.

Speaking at the launch of the PTSC’s new Granville to Point Fortin route at the Granville Activity Centre yesterday, Lasse said workers represented by the Transport and Industrial Worker Unions (TIWU) should be paid by today.

He said he expected a resumption of full bus service to the country yesterday as the corporation had told the union of the loan arrangement. 

Asked how PTSC would repay the loan, since it does not turn over a profit, he said part would be paid by the Ministry of Transport while the balance would be covered by ticket sales. 

Lasse said PTSC hoped to increase aggressively its customer base to achieve increased revenue.

“Yesterday I signed an agreement to secure a loan to settle all the outstanding matters which have caused us to have some delay in the bus service,” Lasse said. 

“The Transport and Industrial Workers Union employees at PTSC have demanded their back pay in order to ensure that they go back to work and do the work they had signed up for.”

He added: “We negotiated a loan of $57 million to pay them and as I was preparing my few points to deliver today, at 4 am the general manager called me and said the cheque would be delivered to PTSC as I now speak at 10 o’clock. It shows that PTSC has been proactive at all times.” 

Speaking by telephone last night, however, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz said his ministry was experiencing cash flow problems as the fiscal year winded down and most of the funding for the nine statutory bodies he oversees had been expended.

Cadiz said it was not unusual for State companies to approach local banks for funding though, adding that under PTSC’s articles of incorporation the corporation could borrow money. 

He said the Ministry of Finance sent out quotes to local banks and Republic Bank had the best deal, adding repayment of the loan will be covered in the 2015/16 national budget.

“What has happened is that we have come to end of fiscal cycle and funds are stretched,” Cadiz said.

“If it was earlier in the year we may have been able to get the necessary funding to pay the back pay but we came down to the end of our budget and there is little or no money left for excess. 

“Therefore, we will borrow on a short term basis and in the new fiscal term we will pay back. Cash flow is the issue that we have right now.”

TIWU elated

Speaking about the decision, TIWU president Roland Sutherland said while it was worrying that the ministry had no money to cover the back pay, they were elated workers would get their payments. He said the lack of funds was something PTSC needed to work out with the Ministry of Finance. 

“I am elated as president of the union because PTSC had retroactive payments due to workers for more than three months. There had to be some action this month from the corporation because they were getting difficulties to pay the money. If they got money borrowed from the bank then the workers are happy,” he said.

He denied, however, workers were ever on a strike, saying they were on a work-to-rule to ensure they got what was owed to them and that customers were safe while travelling on the buses.

He added: “It is worrying as to why Government could not guarantee the PTSC its money. That is something they will have to sort out with the Government.” 

Despite the payments, he said workers would continue to work-to-rule until there were ample parts to repair defective buses and a full compliment of road worthy buses to ensure the public and workers’ safety.

Although yesterday’s ceremony was supposed to inform residents of the new service in their community, it eventually became more of a political meeting.

Lasse, PTSC general manager Carl Ramdeo, T&T’s High Commissioner to Nigeria Nyahuma Obika and members of the Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) all used the podium to endorse United National Congress (UNC) candidate for Point Fortin Ravi Ratiram as the next MP.

Ratiram, who is PTSC’s deputy general manager of properties, promised to have the Point Coco Road paved so buses can use the road, improve bus sheds and have a deluxe coach operate between Point Fortin and Cedros. 

Despite the new bus route being requested since 2013 by Cedros councillor Ramesh Seunal and SRC alderman Shankar Teelucksingh, Lasse said it was when Ratiram approached him to have the route implemented that they immediately acted.​

 

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