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Updated: 2 hours 13 min ago

Chilling twist in Chadee murder

9 hours 20 min ago

Breakthroughs were made by CrimeWatch host Ian Alleyne this week as he sought to uncover the truth behind the murder of 19-year-old Salma Chadee, who was allegedly shot dead by her ex-boyfriend on January 17. Alleyne revealed some key findings of his investigations live this past week after the case took a chilling twist during his probe. Alleyne said his investigations had revealed that a close relative of Chadee may have been involved in her killing. 

He said he discovered that earlier on the day that Chadee was shot by her killer, one of her relatives was seen entering a house located at Tulluck Street, not too far from her Chadee Street, Caroni, residence, seeking to buy a firearm. Alleyne called for a deeper investigation into the case, as he wondered why one of her relatives would be looking for a gun just mere hours before Chadee was killed. He also asked if the gun purchased by the relative was the same gun used to murder Chadee. 

Azad Ali has been identified as a person of interest in the case by the police. But he continues to elude the police manhunt for him, despite the fact that he is in a wheelchair after breaking both his legs in an accident. Alleyne called on Ali to get in touch with him urgently, vowing that heads would roll when he blew the lid on this case and exposed everyone involved in Chadee’s murder.

Also, this week, Alleyne visited the relatives of Krishna Rajkumar in Central Trinidad. The 54-year-old, of Roopsingh Road, Freeport, was allegedly shot dead by a relative who is a member of the police service. The policeman has claimed he was acting in self-defence after being threatened and attacked by the deceased, who was armed with a cutlass. 

But Rajkumar’s relatives begged Alleyne for assistance as they offered another side of the story and said they believed nothing would come of the matter since it involved a member of the police service. The family spoke of an alleged dispute over land and a family house and said while Rajkumar normally was quarrelsome when he drank there was nothing more to it than that. 

Witnesses to the incident claimed allegations that Rajkumar had a weapon were untrue and that he was unarmed when he was shot. Alleyne assured the family that he would get the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate the matter. Footage of an armed robbery at Alisha’s lounge, located at 103 Lachoos Road, Penal, was also aired. The footage showed two armed bandits robbing patrons and the owner on January 24. 

The footage can be seen on Ian Alleyne’s Facebook fanpage and the public is kindly urged to assist in identifying the suspects or their whereabouts. Meanwhile, there was a breakthrough in the investigation into the disappearance of Rosemarie Francois, 19, who went missing on October 30, 2014. Alleyne discovered that there was no kidnapping, but rather, Francois and her boyfriend who both have a pending matter in the court were in Venezuela. 

The mother of Francois’ boyfriend had appeared on the show begging for assistance because she was unaware of her son’s whereabouts. Alleyne is asking the public to call Crime Watch with any information.

Breakthrough Story
The son of Victor Anderson, the man who went missing on January 24, appeared on the programme to thank Alleyne and the nation for their help in finding his father. The man was relieved to have his father back safe and thanked Alleyne for helping. 

Unsolved Mystery
An investigation behind alleged illegal mining at the Santa Maria Quarry, Gasparillo, is ongoing. Alleyne’s investigation has revealed that the activity is being covered up by officials and the owner of the land has been receiving threats. Alleyne promised to keep investigating the matter and will speak to the minister about the situation.
 

Carmona on Constitution: ‘Donkey cart’ interpretations

9 hours 28 min ago

President Anthony Carmona has hit out against those who interpret the Constitution in a “narrow way,” which he described as a “donkey cart interpretation.” he said so during the closed swearing-in ceremony for the new chairperson of the Police Service Commission, Dr Maria Therese Gomes, at his office in St Ann’s on Thursday.

“I do not believe in limited ‘donkey cart’ interpretation of our Constitution,“ Carmona said, adding that “for far too long, we have been engaging in this type of interpretation.” That was an apparent reference to a lawsuit filed by former head of the public service, Reginald Dumas, who has filed a lawsuit challenging the appointment of two sitting members of the commission—Dr James Armstrong and attorney Roamar Achat-Saney—on their lack of necessary qualifications.

Dumas, in his lawsuit, said the strict requirement for the composition of the PSC was not met when the President appointed former Independent Senator Armstrong and Achat-Saney to the commission. The President said the commission, with other members, Martin George and Addison Khan was “a nice mix of expertise, intellect and experience.” He described Gomes’ appointment as historic as she was the first woman to head the commission.

Carmona said more should be done to empower women and he was committed to place women in leadership positions in various institutions. He said he had always held the firm view that we must continue to engage at all times, a philosophy of inclusively. Carmona said he was in full support of gender equality. Carmona described Gomes as “a woman of steely determination, quiet disposition, a strong heart and soul and an incisive intellect and I think in the circumstances that you will do an excellent job.”

He told Gomes she had “a good team, you have a nice balanced team.” She replaced Prof Ramesh Deosaran, who resigned last August, over his apparent frustration in getting government to change the legislation to allow for an easier process to appoint a Commissioner of Police. Since then, the commission has been unable to meet and the fourth extension of the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams expires today.

About the new PSC head
Dr Maria Therese Gomes has an extensive social work background. She graduated from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, with a BSc in social work (Honours) in 1995. She obtained her MSc in social policy and planning in developing countries from the London School of Economics and political science, University of London, United Kingdom, in 1995.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Howard University, Washington DC in 2004 with a Masters in social work, and completed her doctorate in social work in 2010 from the same institution.  

Over her career she has obtained certification in distance learning, blackboard certification and international studies from Howard University, Washington, DC, and also gained certification in drama and theatre education as well as gender studies (distinction) from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine and Cave Hill respectively.

She has numerous honours, awards and grants accredited to her, inclusive of a grant from the Georgetown-Howard Universities Centre for Clinical and Translational Science Community Engagement and Research Partnership Stimulation Mini Grant in 2012, and the US/India-Howard-Jadavpur Research Initiative Award from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, in 2007.

Gomes has served as lead facilitator, campus-wide educational workshop on human trafficking, Howard University, and has presented on numerous topics including embracing social justice and equality locally and globally; immigration reform and human trafficking at the Howard University Faculty Senate Retreat in 2013; strangers in the homeland: closer examination of the reintegration of foreign offenders at the American Corrections Association, 141st Congress, Kissimmee, Florida in 2011; and addressing involuntary return migration through multi-modal community interventions at the eight Biennial Conference of Caribbean and International Social Work Educators, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2007.

—Information supplied by the Office of the President.

NCFTT loses case against Southex

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:59

A last-ditch lawsuit threatening the Chutney Soca Monarch finals was thrown out yesterday, clearing the way for the event at Skinner Park, San Fernando, tonight. In a brief oral ruling yesterday, Justice Andre Des Vignes rejected an injunction application from the National Chutney Foundation of T&T (NCFTT) against the event’s promoter George Singh, of Southex Event Management Limited.

The hearing took place around 8 am at the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, to allow the parties time to file an appeal against the ruling. However, in the end, the group opted not to appeal. The NCFTT, through its president Vijay Ramlal-Rai, was claiming that Singh copied its annual competition, which coincides with Indian Arrival Day celebrations, when he (Singh) incorporated traditional chutney into his competition. 

The NCFTT was relying on the Protection from Unfair Competition Act, as it contended that Singh’s show would financially cripple its own as a traditional chutney competition was unique to its organisation. In defending against the allegation, Singh’s lawyer Dharmendra Punwasee said the NCFTT had no ownership rights over traditional chutney music. 

Although, he admitted, the two promoters drew on the same customer base, the two events were not in competition because they were held over three months apart. As he addressed the NCFTT and its members present in court yesterday, Des Vignes said the legislation which incorporated that organisation did not make it the exclusive promoter of traditional chutney but rather encouraged it to work with other organisations to promote the artform.    

Speaking after the decision, Faris Al-Rawi, who also represented Singh, said he had been confident his client would prevail in the “frivolous” lawsuit. “We take the position that it was ludicrous to have come to court to seek to have a monopoly on the traditional chutney artform,” Al-Rawi said. 

Singh hailed this decision as “a victory for traditional music and the Indo-Trinidadian culture of T&T” as he stated that his event was the “largest and most important in the Indo-Caribbean calendar.” NCFTT was represented by Angela Renaud-Lewis and Temi Ade-John. 

Fabien scolds residents for not helping

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:52

Errol Fabien, talk show host and friend of Marcia Henville, yesterday criticised and blasted residents of the community where the slain journalist lived for not helping her in her time of need. He further called on people in society to stop being bystanders and stand up for others when they needed help.

“Marcia Henville called for help. Marcia Henville screamed. In that fancy Fidelis Heights place nobody went when she called for help. If anyone in Fidelis Heights was bawling, Marcia would have been banging on that front door, but no, nobody wanted to help Marcia,” Fabien said. Henville was laid to rest yesterday in the Tunapuna Cemetery after a funeral service at the Holiness Revival Ministries in Woodbrook. 

She was found dead in her Fidelis Heights home in St Augustine last week Saturday. Initial reports stated she died in a fire. However, an autopsy said she was murdered. Fabien lamented on Henville’s final moments and chided those who did not help her while she was being murdered. Fabien, who got emotional during his testimonial to Henville’s life, admonished people for not helping others who were in need.

“This is not the country I know. When somebody was calling for help, what is going on? Who are we? Nobody ever helped you? Oh gorm, help somebody. Stand up for somebody. Believe in yourself and stand up for somebody. Even if someone is not behind you, stand up for somebody. “Like we got shy or stupid? That has to stop. We don’t have to know who call for help. 

“They don’t have to pay us. They don’t have to bawl out. We can see when people need help. I don’t know what happen. Anyone can tell me how we got so stupidly? We can’t not go when people need help,” Fabien said. He called on the mourners to reflect on Henville’s legacy and help others as much as they could.

“Marcia is not dead. Everybody we have to help Marcia. We have to help people who are in trouble...She must have a voice in all of us else we wouldn’t just bury Marcia, we would kill her and we cannot kill Marcia Henville,” he said. The service was filled to capacity. To honour Henville’s unique style of dress, many chose to wear bright pink outfits, feather boas, and one woman wore a rainbow wig. 

Some of the mourners included Community Development Minister Winston Peters, former sport minister Anil Roberts, former gender minister Verna St Rose-Greaves, the musical group 3Canal and members of the media. Henville’s children, Chioke and Nekiyah Henville, gave the eulogy for their mother. Chioke said despite all the difficult times his family had been put through, he forgave his mother’s killer.

“In life there will be people who will hurt you and cause you pain. You cannot hold grudges,” Chioke said. He said among the best advice his mother gave him was “Don’t care about what other people say about you. If you like it, wear it.” That motto, Chioke said, was reflected in her life. “She always used to say I don’t care about what other people say. It is just their opinion,” Chioke said. Chioke said his mother’s devotion to helping people would alway resonate with him.

Nekiyah reflected on her mother’s bravery, saying Marcia was never afraid of dying. “Marcia Henville, my mother, was an amazing journalist. Bold and fearless, she never hesitated to help someone.”

Soldiers set to step in

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:49

In the event that police officers withhold their services from this weekend’s Panorama competition, the Defence Force is ready to step in. This was the response of civil military affairs officer of the Defence Force Major Al Alexander when asked if soldiers had been asked to assist with Carnival events, following threats by the Police Social and Welfare Association that officers would stay away from Carnival events.

He could not say whether the Regiment had been asked to assist but said: “If asked by the Police Commissioner we are ready to support.” Secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Insp Michael Seales said yesterday only Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar could save the day.

Seales said police officers were adamant they would withhold their services for this weekend’s Panorama semi-finals and other major Carnival events if their salary negotiations were not brought up to speed. “The Defence Force can always step in but they cannot make arrests for even minor infractions,” Seales said. “Even traffic management, they are unable to do that. They can fill the void with numbers but they cannot carry out the functions of a police officer.”

Asked if any Government official had contacted the association Seales said that was yet to happen. He said shortly after a press briefing at the Besson Street Police Station on Wednesday, there were several missed calls from National Security Minister Gary Griffith. “We didn’t take his call because we believe the minister cannot help us. 

“We also do not want to speak to the acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams because he too cannot help us. The only person who can help us is the Prime Minister and she has been known to save the name. “We are reasonable men and our membership are being reasonable in their demands,” Seales added.

When contacted the association’s president Insp Anand Ramesar said if the Prime Minister failed to meet then it would send a signal that she cared neither about police officers nor the public. Ramesar also warned that people who attended fetes and Panorama void of police presence would be doing so at their own risk. “And promoters who have these fetes, knowing there is insufficient police officers are putting the lives of the patrons at risk. The only safe fete to go is Army fete,” Ramesar added.

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday said the matter of salary negotiations was out of his hands. “It is a matter directly for the Government and the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO),” Williams said in an interview. He said he was supportive of the association because all they were doing was “looking after the well-being of their officers.

“I agree that police officers must receive better salaries and must be paid according to international standards.” Williams referred to comments made by former New York city police commissioner Bill Bratton’s statements that for police to perform at their best they needed to be paid better salaries. Williams said Government must pay heed to that.

PanTrinbago responds

In a brief telephone interview yesterday PanTrinbago president Keith Diaz said his organisation had sent a letter to Griffith and had been assured there would be a backup plan if police officers withheld their services. Diaz said he had also been told by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) that the commission was currently discussing the situation with stakeholders. “Jump high or jump low there will be a Panorama competitions this weekend,” Diaz said.

Acting CoP gets sixth extension

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:47

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams received his sixth extension to his post yesterday. He got the notification from the Police Service Commission informing him his term would end in the next six months. But the top cop, when contacted, took it in stride. He pledged to remain resolute in the fight against crime, support his officers to the best of his ability and to protect his country.

Asked if he was disenchanted and frustrated that the commission was taking so long for him to be confirmed in his post, Williams said the issue was not one about feelings but rather commitment to duty. He said he embraced the opportunity to serve again. “This is an opportunity that I embrace because it means I would be in a position to serve my country again at the helm of the Police Service and I will continue to improve the organisation.

“The normal person would be frustrated and if I was frustrated I would be out of the service long time,” Williams added. He said what also gave him the impetus to carry on was the daily dedication by his officers. “My officers are out there risking their lives and limb to protect this nation and that gives me a great sense of pride and fulfilment,” Williams added.

Extension unfortunate

Contacted yesterday secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Insp Micheal Seales said Williams’ sixth extension was not only puzzling but also very unfortunate. “The entire thing is so bewildering as to why there isn’t a push to at least confirm Mr Williams as the police commissioner? 

“It is passing strange that you have the legitimate frame, as cumbersome as it, but why we have not done anything in the 30-plus months? They have also failed to appoint three deputy police commissioners,” Seales said.   He added he was confident that Williams’ sixth extension would affect the morale of the organisation.

“We are quite satisfied that the Police Service is not operating as its optimum because even at times Mr Williams has to continuously reassure himself that he is a professional police officer and that the failure to confirm him in office does not affect him. “The association is wise this is not the case as some where along the line emotions will step in as it will affect any bride in waiting,” Seales added. 

Maria Therese Gomes, a sociologist and behavioural scientist, was appointed on Thursday as the commission’s chairman. In a brief interview after being sworn in Gomes said she had no crystal ball but assured she would be working with commission members to address the problems.

Gomes replaced Professor Ramesh Deosaran who resigned last year in apparent frustration over the failure of Government to amend legislation to make the appointment of a police commissioner and other senior police officers less cumbersome.

 

Mark apologises but says: It was Warner who chose not to speak

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:44

House Speaker Wade Mark has said the error he made in last Friday’s motion by Jack Warner was made through inadvertence only but stressed Warner was the one who chose not to proceed with debate on his own motion. Mark made the points in a statement to Parliament yesterday explaining the error he made in statements he delivered at the start of last Friday’s debate on Warner’s motion.

The motion raised the issue of the conduct of the Minister of Finance and the Economy in his former capacity as Chief Executive Officer of First Citizen’s Bank (FCB) during 2006 to 2009 at a time when the First Citizen’s Bank granted a loan to Carlton Savannah Limited (now in receivership) for the construction of a hotel. Mark explained a mix up had occurred with legal documents sent to him by Howai. He added he never meant to mislead the House and assured the error would not be repeated.

After Mark completed his statement yesterday Warner packed up his belongings and walked out of Parliament again in protest. He said the Speaker should recuse himself on the censure motion and also had a no-confidence motion against Mark. Mark said he had received Warner’s motion on December 30, 2014 and approved it on January 5, 2015. It qualified for debate on  January 12, 2015 and arose for debate on January 23.

Mark said he received for his information a letter from Howai on January 22 which enclosed copies of legal documents served on the Sunshine newspaper regarding allegations made, concerning a loan granted to Carlton Savannah Limited. Copies of the documents were distributed to all MPs.

Mark said: “A perusal of the claim form and statement of case revealed both the legal proceedings and the motion before the House concerned the conduct of the Minister of Finance in his former capacity as CEO of FCB at the time that FCB granted a loan to Carlton Savannah Limited. 

“Accordingly, having received notification of these legal proceedings, it became apparent to me that consideration would have to be given to the application of the sub judice rule when the motion came up for debate. “The sub judice rule is a discretionary restraint imposed by the House itself on the absolute privilege of freedom of speech of its members. 

“This is because of the need for comity between the Judiciary and the Legislature, and the Legislature’s commitment to not adversely affect legal proceedings or to be seen to be determining disputes when that is the sole preserve of the Judiciary. “Neither the Standing Orders of the House of Representative nor parliamentary practice limit the application of the sub judice rule to criminal proceedings only. 

“The rule is to be applied on a case-by-case basis, considering the nature of the debate before the House, the nature of the related legal proceedings and the relevant Standing Order.” 

Mark added: “As a consequence honourable members, I felt it necessary that before debate on the motion began, I should bring to the attention of the mover of the motion and of the House that legal proceedings related to the subject matter of the motion had commenced in the High Court and that a consideration of the sub judice rule arose as a consequence.

“I indicated I had received only a few hours before the start of that sitting a notice from the High Court of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, dated 16th January, 2015, concerning a matter involving Larry Howai and Azad Ali of the Sunshine Publishing Company Limited. “That was clearly incorrect and I assure this Honourable House that error was through inadvertence only. 

“It was my intention to say that I had received notification of a matter involving Larry Howai and Azad Ali which had been filed on 16th January, 2015, the date of the official stamp of the High Court on both the Claim Form and Statement of Case. Mark added: “I sincerely regret the embarrassment to the Judiciary as my statement would have incorrectly conveyed the impression that the Judiciary had on its own volition notified me of a matter before it.”

Mark said he wrote the Chief Justice on January 26 expressing his regret and assuring him of the mutual respect and comity which exists between the Parliament and the Judiciary. He said the Chief Justice acknowledged receipt on January 27. He added: “I also sincerely regret that through my error it may have appeared that I wilfully misled this Honourable House and for that I most respectfully apologise. I assure all honourable members that I never intended to mislead this House.”

He added: “ I wish to ask honourable members to note that after I brought to the attention of the House the existence of the said legal proceedings, in exercise of my discretion as the presiding officer, I permitted debate on the motion to commence. “I didn’t deny or shut down debate on the motion. It was the mover of the motion who, of his own volition, after he commenced his contribution, decided not to proceed. The transcript of the proceedings of that sitting is evidence of what transpired.”

PM okay with Mark’s apology

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:41

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the Government accepts the statement issued by House Speaker Wade Mark yesterday on the sub judice matter during last week Friday’s debate on a motion of no confidence in Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai. The debate collapsed after the mover of the private motion, former national security minister Jack Warner, was advised that he could not speak on certain matters as they were before the court.

Mark yesterday apologised for giving the impression that the letter on which he based his advice was from the Judiciary, noting it had in fact been from Howai. Speaking afterwards, Persad-Bissessar said both Howai and Mark had a duty to bring the issue of sub judice to the House “so that there would have been no infringement of the sub judice rule.” Persad-Bissessar also said the Speaker did not stop the debate. 

“It was the Chaguanas West MP who stopped himself. 
“The Speaker did the appropriate thing by explaining the circumstances (yesterday). At the end of the day, the same result would have ensued because the sub judice rule would have been triggered once these matters were filed,” she added.

Minister: I’m trained not to be scared

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:40

“I’m trained not to be scared.” That was the boast from National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday as he fielded questions from reporters on the police probe into the matter concerning Attorney General and Police Complaints Authority director David West, in which Griffith himself is alleged to be part of the picture.

Asked whether he had corroborated West’s statement to police on the issue, Griffith said he could no speak about something being investigated by police. He said he had not had any meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and added that he was still minister. “The very fact I’m here shows that I am,” he added.

During debate, when teased by the People’s National Movement (PNM) while answering an Opposition question, Griffith admonished them: “I am the Minister of National Security.” Speaking to reporters afterwards, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley called on Persad-Bissessar to “call election now” as the Government had collapsed. He also noted the issue concerning House Speaker Wade Mark, saying the Parliament was also embroiled in a situation and the Cabinet had imploded. 

Rowley said the only recourse from all of this was for a general election to be called to deal with all the matters “in one dose or we will end up with an attempt to patch and fix and mend and it will only get worse.” He said the PM was dealing with the issue concerning the AG in the same way she had dealt with issues regarding Jack Warner, Anil Roberts and others.

“... Pretending not to know what to do, that’s the Prime Minister’s style. Is only when the landslide is about to bury them, they try to step aside. But this landslide will bury them without any effort on their part,” he added. PNM PRO Faris Al-Rawi also detailed the defamation case against Ramlogan. He said the PNM would have to examine the implications of the West issue on that.

Attending yesterday’s Parliament session and watching Griffith speak were former United National Congress leader Basdeo Panday’s daughters, including Mikela and an older sister. They left early in the session.

Griffith duped into approaching West but Security head ready to testify

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:36

National Security Minister Gary Griffith confided in a Cabinet colleague on Thursday he was approached by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to use his friendship with Police Complaints Authority head David West in order to confirm "if West recalled the documents" in the Section 34 defamation lawsuit against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.

However, Griffith appears ready to provide statements in the ongoing police probe in the allegations against the AG  to clear his name in the matter. The colleague yesterday said Griffith had informed them he was not aware of exactly what the “documents” in questions were but was just delivering a message on Ramlogan's behalf when he approached West in the matter. It was only later on that Griffith in fact realised it was the Section 34 lawsuit.

"It was only when he (Griffith) contacted West that he was told to leave that situation alone because the matter was before the court that he realised what was going on," Griffith;s colleague told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

Ramlogan had initially denied media reports  he had contacted West before his appointment to the PCA, asking him to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation lawsuit relating to the failed extradition involving Section 34 applicants Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh in exchange for him being selected for the PCA job. But West on Thursday refuted Ramlogan's denial, saying his recollection of the events were "diametrically opposed" to the Attorney General's.

West was also reported to have delivered a statement to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but the T&T Guardian has learnt that while a detailed, signed report was delivered to the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, nothing has been delivered to the DPP yet.

The T&T Guardian was informed that the timeline of the alleged discussions between Ramlogan, Griffith and West was the crux of the growing discord between the three, as Griffith has informed his colleagues that he was only passing a message on to West.

Cabinet interference

When contacted yesterday, Griffith said he was not speaking on the matter. "I have to be careful because the matter is before the court but I can say that I am in no way implicated," Griffith said. The T&T Guardian also learned that Griffith was refusing to back down or be cowed by his Cabinet colleagues. When asked how that was affecting the climate inside Cabinet, the insider said: "Griffith not too worried about that.

"He does not intend to retract or back down or not make that witness statement because his Cabinet colleagues are trying to get him to back down." Griffith, the T&T Guardian learned, was "willing and ready to testify." Meanwhile, West himself yesterday said he hoped the matter would be investigated swiftly and said he stood ready to play his part in the investigation.

West, who was in Tobago for a meeting in Plymouth, also dispelled the AG’s claim that there was a political conspiracy against him saying: “I don’t agree with his words. I gave a statement to the commissioner of Police and that statement will be investigated by the Deputy Commissioner of Police.”

Cabinet interference

When contacted yesterday, Griffith said he was not speaking on the matter. "I have to be careful because the matter is before the court but I can say that I am in no way implicated," Griffith said. The T&T Guardian also learned that Griffith was refusing to back down or be cowed by his Cabinet colleagues. When asked how that was affecting the climate inside Cabinet, the insider said: "Griffith not too worried about that.

"He does not intend to retract or back down or not make that witness statement because his Cabinet colleagues are trying to get him to back down." Griffith, the T&T Guardian learned, was "willing and ready to testify." Meanwhile, West himself yesterday said he hoped the matter would be investigated swiftly and said he stood ready to play his part in the investigation.

West, who was in Tobago for a meeting in Plymouth, also dispelled the AG’s claim that there was a political conspiracy against him saying: “I don’t agree with his words. I gave a statement to the commissioner of Police and that statement will be investigated by the Deputy Commissioner of Police.”

I will act in T&T’s interest

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:31

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is assuring the country that she will act after receiving all the facts about allegations of misconduct by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and the role played, if any, by National Security Minister Gary Griffith in the matter involving Police Complaints Authority (PCA) director David West.

She made the comment in an impromptu interview with reporters during yesterday’s Parliament tea break, noting that since her return to the country on Thursday night, she had not had time to meet with her two Cabinet colleagues, although she said those meetings would take place as soon as possible. West filed an official complaint to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in the matter on Wednesday.

It is alleged that Ramlogan attempted to pervert the course of justice by requesting that West withdraw his witness statement in a Section 34 court matter involving businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ish Galbaransingh in exchange for the PCA position. Ramlogan has repeatedly denied this claim, saying the allegation was part of a wider political conspiracy designed to damage the Government as the 2015 general election approaches.

Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar confirmed she was looking for details on the matter. “Look, the allegations are very serious. They are very grave allegations concerning three very important officers in our land, the office of the Attorney General, the office of the Minister of National Security and the director of the Police Complaints Authority,” she said. She added because of the significance of the offices involved, the investigation was “not one in which we should run swiftly.

“I say hasten, hasten, hasten slowly, really, because it affects such important offices and it is my duty to hear all that we can, to get all the information that we can and then make decisions in the best interest of the people of T&T,” she added.

No remit over PCA head

The PM admitted that up to yesterday afternoon no meeting had taken place with either of her Cabinet colleagues. “No, I have not yet met with either gentleman. I will meet them as soon as I can. I have not spoken with anyone on the phone or in person,” she said. Asked if she had requested any documents from the ministers, Persad-Bissessar repeated: “I have indicated that I will personally meet with them and speak with them.”

She said, however, that she “will do what I think is right because it is the right thing to do as I have always done. There will be no friendship or friends or family or partisan interests but instead I will be looking at what is in the best interest of the people of T&T.” Persad-Bissessar added: “At the moment there are allegations flowing left, right and centre and I cannot be judge and jury. I think people are innocent until proven guilty but I will look at all statements coming from the two parties.”

She said, however,  she had “no remit over the third office (PCA director). Confirming she was officially informed by Williams of the probe, Persad-Bissessar said it was being carried out because of the three very important offices involved in the allegation.

No remit over PCA head

The PM admitted that up to yesterday afternoon no meeting had taken place with either of her Cabinet colleagues. “No, I have not yet met with either gentleman. I will meet them as soon as I can. I have not spoken with anyone on the phone or in person,” she said. Asked if she had requested any documents from the ministers, Persad-Bissessar repeated: “I have indicated that I will personally meet with them and speak with them.”

She said, however, that she “will do what I think is right because it is the right thing to do as I have always done. There will be no friendship or friends or family or partisan interests but instead I will be looking at what is in the best interest of the people of T&T.” Persad-Bissessar added: “At the moment there are allegations flowing left, right and centre and I cannot be judge and jury. I think people are innocent until proven guilty but I will look at all statements coming from the two parties.”

She said, however,  she had “no remit over the third office (PCA director). Confirming she was officially informed by Williams of the probe, Persad-Bissessar said it was being carried out because of the three very important offices involved in the allegation.

AG spends day in prayer, tells media: Respect my privacy

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:31

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday begged the media to give him some space. “Respect my privacy,” Ramlogan said as the T&T Guardian sought to get a response from him on the growing calls for his resignation. This even as there was more calls for his immediate removal in the wake of the announcement by acting Police Commission Stephen Williams he had launched a probe into allegations of witness tampering against the AG by Police Complaints Authority Director David West. 

Yesterday, Ramlogan, who spent most of the day at his home at Palmiste, San Fernando,  with his family, declined to comment further on the issue. “It is the subject of a police investigation now. I have no comment to make,” Ramlogan said in a telephone interview. The AG, who is residing at a gated villa in Palmiste while refurbishment works to his home continue, used his time away from the office to visit his barber in Rambert Village for a haircut. 

Contacted again last evening after he had got his haircut, Ramlogan once again declined. He seemed upset at the alleged “intrusion” and asked that he be left alone. “I understand it is your job but please respect my privacy, especially at a time like this,” Ramlogan implored. Ramlogan, however, said he spent the day in "quiet prayer," adding t he worked from home. He also refused a request for a photo of him at home.

On Thursday, Williams announced he had appointed acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations) Harold Phillip to investigate West’s allegation that Ramlogan attempted to pervert the course of justice. West alleged Ramlogan asked him to withdraw his witness statement in the defamation lawsuit involving People’s National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley in exchange for him (West) being selected for the PCA job. 

Ramlogan’s lawsuit relates to the failed extradition matter concerning Section 34 applicants Steve Ferguson and Ish Galbaransingh. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, upon her return to T&T on Thursday, described the allegations against Ramlogan as “very serious and very troubling.” She said a second senior government minister was involved in the matter. The PM said she would need to speak to Ramlogan on the matter but added that he remained AG “until whenever he is no longer attorney general.”

No resignation from House Speaker Wade Mark

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:00

Despite protests outside Parliament and several calls for his resignation, House Speaker Wade Mark did not step down when he rose to speak in the Lower House on January 30.

Following is the full text of the Mark's statement, in which he speaks about his response to the Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner's no-confidence motion against Minister of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai on December 30, 2014. 

Some highlights:
• Says his misleading of the Lower House was unintentional
• Says the transcript will show that he did not shut down debate on December 30, 2014

1. Hon. Members, I received a motion of no confidence in the Minister of Finance and the Economy from the Honourable Member for Chaguanas West on 30th December, 2014, and I approved the same on 5th January, 2015. The motion qualified for debate on 12th January 2015. By agreement it came up for debate on Friday 23rd January, 2015, Private Member’s day.

2. The motion, by its recitals, raised the issue of the conduct of the Minister of Finance and the Economy in his former capacity as Chief Executive Officer of First Citizen’s Bank (FCB) during the period 2006 to 2009 at a time when the First Citizen’s Bank granted a loan to Carlton Savannah Limited (now in receivership) for the construction of a hotel.  

3. Honourable Members, on 22nd January, 2015, I received a letter, with enclosures, dated 22nd January, 2015, from the Minister of Finance and the Economy (which I have caused to be circulated to Members) which stated as follows: 

“Dear Mr. Speaker,

“I enclose a copy of Legal Documents served on the Sunshine Newspapers regarding allegations made, with respect to a loan granted to Carlton Savannah Limited, for your information.

“Yours faithfully,

Larry Howai
Minister of Finance and the Economy”

4. The letter contained the following enclosures: 

(1) a letter dated 20th January, 2015, from Messrs. Lydia Mendonca & Co., Attorneys at Law, to the Minister of Finance and the Economy (stamped as having been received by the Minister of Finance and the Economy on 21st January, 2015), captioned CV2015-00159- Larry Howai -vs- Azad Ali and Sunshine Publishing Company Limited, advising the Minister (a) that on 16th January, 2015 they had filed proceedings in the High Court on his behalf commencing action against Azad Ali and Sunshine Publishing Company Limited claiming, inter alia, damages for libel and injunctive relief, and (b) that the Claim Form and Statement of Case were served on the Defendants on 19th January, 2015; 

(2) copies of the returns of personal service on the Defendants; and 

(3) a copy of the Claim Form and Statement of Case, both dated 16th January, 2015 and both bearing the official stamp of the High Court dated 16th January, 2015.  

5. Hon. Members, a perusal of the Claim Form and Statement of Case revealed that both the legal proceedings and the motion before the House concerned the conduct of the Minister of Finance and the Economy in his former capacity as CEO of FCB at the time that FCB granted a loan to Carlton Savannah Limited.

6. Accordingly, Honourable Members, having received notification of these legal proceedings, it became apparent to me that consideration would have to be given to the application of the sub judice rule when the motion came up for debate.

7. Honourable Members will recognize that the sub judice rule is a discretionary restraint imposed by the House itself on the absolute privilege of freedom of speech of its Members. This is because of the need for comity between the Judiciary and the Legislature, and the Legislature’s commitment to not adversely affect legal proceedings or to be seen to be determining disputes when that is the sole preserve of the Judiciary. Honourable Members neither the Standing Orders of the House of Representative nor parliamentary practice limits the application of the sub judice rule to criminal proceedings only. The rule is to be applied on a case by case basis, considering the nature of the debate before the House, the nature of the related legal proceedings and the relevant Standing Order.

8. As a consequence Honourable Members, I felt it necessary that before debate on the motion began, I should bring to the attention of the mover of the motion and of the House that legal proceedings related to the subject matter of the motion had commenced in the High Court and that a consideration of the sub judice rule arose as a consequence.

9. I indicated that I had received only a few hours before the start of that sitting a notice from the High Court of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago dated 16th January, 2015, concerning a matter involving Larry Howai and Azad Ali of the Sunshine Publishing Company Limited. That was clearly incorrect and I assure this Honourable House that that error was through inadvertence only. It was my intention to say that I had received notification of a matter involving Larry Howai and Azad Ali which had been filed on 16th January, 2015, the date of the official stamp of the High Court on both the Claim Form and Statement of Case.  

10. Honourable Members, I sincerely regret the embarrassment to the Judiciary as my statement would have incorrectly conveyed the impression that the Judiciary had on its own volition notified me of a matter before it. On the 26th of January 2015, I wrote to the Honourable the Chief Justice expressing my regret and assuring him of the mutual respect and comity which exists between the Parliament and the Judiciary and to which this House is resolutely committed. The Honourable the Chief Justice on 27th January, 2015 acknowledged receipt of my letter.

11. I also sincerely regret that through my error it may have appeared that I wilfully misled this Honourable House and for that I most respectfully apologise. I assure all honorable Members that I never intended to mislead this House.

12. I wish in closing to ask Honourable Members to note that after I brought to the attention of the House the existence of the said legal proceedings, in exercise of my discretion as the Presiding Officer, I permitted debate on the motion to commence. I did not deny or shut down debate on the motion. It was the mover of the motion who, of his own volition, after he commenced his contribution, decided not to proceed. The transcript of the proceedings of that sitting is evidence of what transpired.

13. I thank you for your indulgence, Honourable Members.

Source: T&T Parliament

ACP Reyes pleads not guilty to three criminal charges

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 13:24

Assistance Commissioner of Police Peter Reyes pleaded not guilty to three criminal charges of putting an aircraft and crew in danger.

Reyes appeared before Arima Magistrate Debbie Ann Bassaw on January 30, and was released on $30,000 bail.

Charges were brought by Deputy Police Commissioner (Crime) Glenn Hackett.

The charges include threatening the safety of the aircraft and passengers on board; using abusive and insulting language towards a crew member and for intentionally interfering with crew members in the execution of their duties. The three charges carry a maximum fine of $25,000 and up to a year imprisonment.

The matter was adjourned to February 27.

 

Extra security given to West

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:49

National Security Minister Gary Griffith has been identified as a critical witness in the criminal investigation of misbehaviour in public office against Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, according to reliable police sources.

The information came as Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Crime, Harold Phillip, began his probe into the latest criminal allegation linked to the infamous Section 34 fiasco.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Griffith would only repeat: “I have no comment to make on that matter.”

But sources said Griffith intended to co-operate with police investigators in the matter.

West yesterday submitted a detailed signed witness statement to the police in support of his complaint that the Attorney General tried to get him to withdraw a witness statement he filed in defence of a defamation lawsuit between Ramlogan and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley relating to the Section 34 matter. 

This triggered acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to appoint Phillip to assemble a team to probe the allegation. West has also been provided with a security detail.

Sources said investigators will pore over a chain of events which will take them to the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, to examine court records and through the telephone records of West, Ramlogan and Griffith among other people.

Sources said West last year had confided to a politician about attempts being made to influence him in a court matter. The attempts were made on the same day the High Court gave a decision in the defamation lawsuit against Rowley, police sources said.

Ramlogan, in a detailed press release on Monday, denied West’s allegations that he attempted to influence him to withdraw the witness statement in exchange for his appointment as director of the Police Complaints Authority.

That position, under the Constitution, requires consent from both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader before it is sealed by the Office of the President.

Yesterday, members of the media gathered outside the AG’s offices, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, after rumours spread  he was about to resign and make a statement at a press conference to that effect.

 The AG was visited by Communication Minister Vasant Bharath and attorney Wayne Sturge at one point but no press conference materialised and the AG subsequently sent out a release in which he welcomed the probe on the matter.

Emailgate not going away

In a statement yesterday, AG Ramlogan called for a speedy enquiry and labelled the allegation part of a “political conspiracy.”

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Ramlogan, Griffith and Works and Transport Minister Suruj Rambachan were identified in a separate criminal investigation relating to the Section 34 matter, now dubbed Emailgate.

It was Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who in May 2012 disclosed in Parliament a thread of e-mails purportedly being exchanged between the four politicians in the wake of the passage of legislation which was tailored to benefit political financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who were facing a series of fraud charges relating to the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport Development Project.

That matter, subject to two investigations by the Integrity Commission and the Police Service, are yet to be completed. 

The probe by the Integrity Commission has progressed somewhat with e-mail service provider Google to comply with a subpoena in a California, USA court to hand over the e-mail records of Ramlogan and Persad-Bissessar.

The police matter is now lodged with the United States Department of Justice, the T&T Guardian learned.

The conspiracy detailed in the thread of e-mails disclosed a plot to spy on Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, remove him from office by influencing Chief Justice Ivor Archie to appoint Gaspard to the High Court bench and harm investigative journalist Denyse Renne among other things.

The four politicians have previously denied any wrongdoing in the Emailgate matter and described the thread of e-mails as a fabrication.

 

Ramlogan: It’s political conspiracy

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:45

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday labelled a criminal complaint against him of witness-tampering allegations as “part of a wider political conspiracy designed to damage the government as we draw closer to elections.”

His four-sentence response came at 6.08 pm after meeting with Communication Minister Vasant Bharath at his Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, and three-and-a-half hours after the acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said a criminal investigation had begun into a complaint made by the Director of the Police Complaints Authority David West.

The Government is in its fifth year in office and a general election is scheduled for later this year. 

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who was in Costa Rica, has been reportedly apprised of the developments, government sources said. She was scheduled back in the country last night.

West claimed Ramlogan had asked him to withdraw his witness statement in a lawsuit he (Ramlogan) brought against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley relating to the failed extradition of applicants Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh in the Section 34 extradition matter. 

West also claimed that Ramlogan made that request in exchange for his (West’s) appointment as PCA director.

Ramlogan has denied that allegation. 

In the media statement, he said he welcomed the police probe and intended to co-operate fully with the investigators. 

He said he was confident he would be vindicated at the end. 

There was widespread speculation that Ramlogan was about to tender his resignation but in the statement he issued later, he made no mention of any resignation.

Ramlogan yesterday said he hoped “the investigation would be handled professionally, thoroughly and expeditiously.”

The minister said all parties must now allow due process to take its course. 

Members of the media camped outside the AG’s office were not able to speak to him directly. Bharath’s driver drove off without the minister acknowledging members of media.

Williams names DCP for probe

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:43

The Attorney General is now under police probe.

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams yesterday appointed acting Deputy  Commissioner of Police (operations) Harold Phillip to investigate Police Complaints Authority director David West’s allegation that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan attempted to pervert the course of justice.

The Police Service confirmed this via a statement yesterday.

This followed a press release by West that he had put the matter in the CoP’s hands.

In the release, West noted that his recollection of what transpired in the recently publicised alleged witness-tampering matter involving himself and the AG was “diametrically opposed to the Hon Attorney General’s denial that he ever approached me.” 

Both men have been spotlighted in the alleged witness-tampering issue after claims that six days before West was appointed PCA director, Ramlogan asked him to withdraw his witness statement in the defamation lawsuit,  involving People’s National Movement leader Dr Keith Rowley, relating to the failed extradition concerning Section 34 applicants Steve Ferguson and Ish Galbaransingh, in exchange for West being selected for the PCA job.

Stemming from West’s signed statement on this yesterday, the police stated: “The Commissioner of Police (Ag), Mr Stephen Williams, wishes to advise that today Thursday  January 29, 2015, he was visited by Mr David West at the  Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain, and presented with a signed statement, in which Mr West made an allegation of ‘an attempt to pervert the course of justice,’ against Senator the Honourable, Anand Ramlogan, Attorney General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

“As a consequence, the Commissioner of Police has ordered an investigation into the matter. The investigation will be led by Deputy Commissioner of Police—Operations (Ag), Mr Harold Phillip.”

Phillip is an attorney and the Gold Commander in charge of security for Carnival 2015. He was also the lead investigator on the Calder Hart perjury probe in 2012 and ACP (Crime) in 2010.

Phillip declined comment yesterday on how he would proceed with the probe of West’s allegations.

Resignation rumours

Rumours that the AG was having a press conference and might resign resulted in reporters congregating at his St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, office yesterday evening awaiting Ramlogan.

An e-mail sent to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the development obtained no reply to questions on her position on whether Ramlogan, as a cornerstone of the Cabinet,  would be removed pending the outcome of the probe and how her Government would carry on with such allegations over the AG if he remained in office.

The PM was due home last night in time for today’s Parliament session. 

Communications Minister Vasant Bharath didn’t answer calls but was at the AG’s offices yesterday.

But Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar, who recently failed to get a meeting with West on the issue, said the matter should be dealt with speedily  “...with due regard for the rights of all involved and without pre-judgment.

“What we need are the facts... the truth of the situation and if there’s sufficient evidence for further action against anyone, that must also be proceeded with urgently. The seriousness of this matter demands the earliest resolution,” he said.

He added: “On learning of this allegation last Sunday, I immediately publicly said that the COP “would welcome and support prompt investigations into these allegations so as to bring it all to a swift conclusion. Such serious allegations must be investigated in a timely manner once there is substantial information to require it. 

“This has been the COP’s position since May 2010 when we came into government. We have applied it to all public officials, including those from our own party against whom serious allegations have been made.” 

Prior to West’s release, the T&T Guardian asked West why he had only now reported the issue to the CoP if it had happened since last year. West had no comment but said he was sending a statement.

Rowley, for whom West had given his witness statement, has called for the AG to resign on the issue, as has the Movement for Social Justice, Joint Trade Union Movement and other groups opposed to the Government.

 

Cops threaten to boycott Panorama

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:40

There will no police presence for Sunday’s Panorama semifinals and at all other major Carnival events.

So said president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Insp Anand Ramesar.

He added if Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not intervene immediately and settle salary negotiations before Sunday then the country’s security would be threatened.

Speaking at a press conference at the Besson Street Police Station, Port-of-Spain, yesterday Ramesar said members of the Police, Prisons and Fire Services were still receiving 2008 salaries.

His sentiments were echoed by president of the Prisons Service Association Ceron Richards and Leo Ramkisoon, president of the Fire Services Association.

Ramesar claimed there was a “constructive delay” by the chief personnel officer to proceed with salary negotiations.

He added: “What we are seeing is a volatile situation in the Police Service and members have been calling us the entire day and indicating to us they are not going to work for Panorama and that is a situation which we consider to be extremely worrisome and a threat to public safety.

“We are clear in our minds that it is not a situation which the Commissioner of Police could treat with nor the Minister of National Security. 

“It is clearly a membership issue to the point where we need an intervention by an authority that can address the situation,” Ramesar added. 

He said the association believed it did not have the morale authority to sway members from staying away from the job.

“The members believe the CPO has been procrastinating in providing the necessary information for salary negotiations to proceed. Nobody short of the Prime Minister could treat with this issue,” Ramesar added.

Richards said prisons officers were frustrated and fed up, so much so that inmates were brought to the respective courts late yesterday. He said based on the slow pace of negotiations the enthusiasm of prisons officers had dwindled.

He accused the CPO of “robbing” police, fire and prisons officers of the opportunity to negotiate in an effective and proper manner.

“Just last week we met with the CPO and efforts to frustrate the process continue. Members of the Prisons Service have been frustrated where there is a serious slowdown in the operations in the east and in Port-of-Spain,” Richards added.

Ramkisoon said he was also unable to report to his membership as to where negotiations stood.

“We need to convey to our members a genuine attempt by the Government to treat with the issues. We are seeing clearly there is no real or genuine effort to place and offer on the table,” Ramkisoon claimed.

Four in wild card vote

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:38

Mobile operator Digicel has announced a major change in the Groovy Soca Monarch competition which will allow one more artiste to head to the finals on Fantastic Friday.

The new element of the competition, the Digicel Wild Card, will see one of four soca artistes join the current group of 14 finalists.

The four finalists — Patrice Roberts, 5 Star Akil, Ravi B and Sekon Sta — will be chosen by fans in a text-to-vote system on the Digicel network. 

Fans will have an opportunity to vote for the artistes of their choice by texting individual artist codes to Digicel.

The wild card element of the competition was announced yesterday by operations manager of Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) Harande Eeli and senior sponsorship manager at Digicel, Christopher Edmund.

“The Groovy wild card draw gives fans the power to choose the one wild card that will go forward,” said Edmund.

Eeli said the Digicel Groovy competition had been the fastest growing aspect of the Soca Monarch and added CPF had been in discussions with Digicel for several years to enhance the category, through a wild card element.

While plans for the “wild card” element had been discussed, both Eeli and Digicel’s corporate communications manager Penny Gomez said this year presented a perfect opportunity to launch the wild card competition.

She said that was because of fan reactions to certain artistes being exempted from the finals.

Fans wishing to vote for the artistes will need to text their artist code to GROV (4763).

They have until noon next Friday to vote. Voting begins today.

 

Artist codes:

Patrice Roberts: PATR.

Sekon Sta: SEKO.

Ravi B: RAVI.

5 Star Akil: STAR.

 

Montano looks to give young artistes a ‘haven’

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:36

Machel Montano will be launching a record label and safe haven for young artistes shortly after Carnival 2015.

This was announced by his manager Che Kothari during a panel discussion on the life and music of Montano, currently performing under the sobriquet Monk Monte.

The panel discussion, which featured media professionals, a nun, a priest and Montano’s parents, took place at Boisierre House, Queen’s Park Savannah, on Wednesday.

Kothari revealed Montano’s plans to start the organisation which will be called the Monte Incorporated on March 3.

He said the organisation, which would function as a record label on the music side, would seek to sign young artistes.

“We will also expand that into the entire creative industry because we can’t just have a musical artiste without all the other elements.

“The arts have the power to help you achieve your highest level of being and understanding. Art and culture have the power to mitigate social exclusion, poverty and create economic opportunity,” Kothari added.

Montano revealed a surprising side of his personality when he told the audience of an inherent loneliness and spoke about situations in his childhood which made him more comfortable on his own.

He said however that his reinvention as Monk Monte was a symbol of him finding himself.

 

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