2003-11-06 / Caribbean Corner

caribbean roundup

Jamaican Mother Of Teenage Sniper Suspect Refuses To Testify In Muhammad
caribbean roundup Jamaican Mother Of Teenage Sniper Suspect Refuses To Testify In Muhammad’s Trial

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – The mother of teenage sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo has refused to testify in the murder case of John Allen Muham-mad unless she’s allowed to meet with her son.

Una James, 38, was subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify in Muhammad’s trial in Virginia. She was scheduled to fly from her native Jamaica on Sunday, but refused at the last minute, saying she hadn’t received assurances she could see her son, suspected of murder.

"Why is it that America says it stands for family first?,’’ James told CVM television station in a broadcast recently. "If that was an American child would he be without his mother by his side? Is that justice?’’

James, who was deported to Jam-aica in December 2002, said she doesn’t have a lawyer and expressed concern about what might happen to her if she traveled to the United States without legal representation.

James added that she didn’t see the point in returning to Jamaica after testifying in Muhammad’s trial only to be summoned again for her son’s, which begins Nov. 10.

It was unclear when James was subpoenaed or if a future trip is being planned. Virginia prosecutors did not return calls seeking comment.

U.S. Consulate officials this weekend denied James a visa to attend Mu-hammad’s trial, but Virginia authorities and the U.S. Homeland Security De-partment arranged for her transporta-tion with an escort, U.S. Embassy spokes-woman Orna Blum said.

She later met inside with waiting U.S. officials for about 10 minutes be-fore leaving the airport in a taxi without further explanation.

When reached on her cell phone, James refused to comment, saying she wasn’t speaking with the U.S. media.

In a June interview with Jamaican television, James lashed out at U.S. authorities, saying she warned them that Muhammad was a bad influence on her son prior to the shootings. U.S. authorities have disputed her claim.

Malvo, 18, and Muhammad, 42, allegedly took part in 20 shootings that killed 13 people in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Wash-ington, D.C. last year.

Prosecutors have said the three-week shooting spree was part of scheme to extort $10 million from the government. Both could face the death penalty if convicted.

In 1998, James and Malvo moved from Jamaica to Antigua, where they met Muhammad. Investigators believe she bought identification papers from Muhammad and entered the United States in late 2000 while her son stayed behind with Muhammad.

Malvo came to the United States bearing a false passport that identified him as Muhammad’s son, according to Antiguan officials. He joined his mother in Fort Myers, Fla., but ran away in October 2001 to join Muhammad in Bellingham, Wash., where they lived at a homeless shelter as father and son.

In September, James said she asked Bellingham police to help her get her son back. During the investigation, po-lice said Malvo’s comments indicated he and his mother were in the country illegally and officers summoned the Border Patrol, which arrested the mo-ther and son and then released them on $1,500 bail.

OAS Concerned Over Escalating Tensions In Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – The Organization of American States (OAS) said recently it was concerned over escalating tensions in parts of Haiti.

At least 14 have been killed and scores wounded in nearly two months of anti-government demonstrations in Cap-Haitien and Gonaives, former strongholds of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The OAS is worried about "the violation of human rights and the calling into question of the state of law noted recently,’’ OAS special representative David Lee said at a news conference.

The government has accused the op-position of mobilizing supporters to de-stabilize the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"Political parties should work to gain the confidence of the people and not make them fear they are fomenting a coup d’etat,’’ said Haitian government spokesman Mario Dupuy.

Since the September killing of former Aristide strongman, Amiot Meta-yer, his followers in Gonaives have torched government buildings and clash-ed with police in Gonaives, actions which Lee condemned.

At least 13 people have been killed and 38 wounded in Gonaives.

One infant was reportedly burned to death after her mother’s house was burn-ed down but authorities have not found the remains.

Metayer once ruled the streets for Aristide, but his followers turned against the president after his death, saying the government masterminded the killing to prevent him from revealing compromising information.

The government has denied the allegations.

Haiti’s government and opposition have been at odds since flawed May 2000 elections, which the opposition said were rigged. Aristide has pledged to hold legislative elections this year, but the opposition refuses to participate unless Aristide steps down.

In Cap-Haitien, thousands have also taken to the streets in anti-government protests.

At least one person has been killed during the demonstrations.

Island Celebrates 25 Years Of Independence From Britain

ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) – Thou-sands celebrated Dominica’s silver anniversary of independence from Bri-tain recently, amid a bleak economic outlook for the Caribbean island.

"We must steer the course for Do-minica’s sake,’’ Prime Minister Pierre Charles said during a military parade marking the anniversary. "Dominica is in a position to ride out this storm.’’

The government has been struggling to close its EC$59.8 million (US$22.5 million) budget deficit, pay off a EC$779 million (US$287.4 million) national debt and boost economic growth, which has been in decline since 2000.

The economic trouble has threatened the wider Eastern Caribbean bloc, which shares a common currency and central bank. The bloc also in-cludes Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vin-cent and the Grenadines and the Bri-tish territory of Montserrat.

Dominica’s government last year decreased its budget by 15 percent and passed strict austerity measures, in-cluding an additional 4 percent income tax and new levies on gasoline, alcohol and utility services.

Police Uncover Gruesome Details In Killings Of Missing Boys

FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) – To those who knew him best, Cordell Farrington was a former crack addict, an avid Bible reader and an artist who helped support his family by working at a warehouse.

Now he’s the man charged with murdering four boys whose disappearances frightened people in the Bahamas, a country of islands set in azure waters popular with beach lovers and bone fishers.

Investigators who are just beginning to uncover macabre details say the quiet man kept cardboard boxes filled with human bones in his house.

"It’s just a hurt, a heartache for the nation,’’ said Ench Grant, a waitress on Grand Bahama island.

Farrington, 35, last week led police to skeletal remains buried in a secluded pine forest near Barbary Beach, a popular picnic spot on the island’s east end.

He is charged with the murders of Mackinson Colas, 11; Junior Reme, 11; DeAngelo McKenzie, 13; Desmond Rolle, 14; and Jamaal Robins, a 22-year-old he met at a drug rehabilitation center.

One friend said Farrington had a homosexual relationship with Robins and used to lure boys to his apartment, where he would pay them to work on art projects.

Body Of One Of Guyana’s Most Wanted Suspects Found

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) – Police found the body of one of Guyana’s most wanted suspects dumped along a rural road in Suriname, officials said.

Paul Pindleton, 21, was on Guyana’s 10 most wanted list and was suspected of killing two police officers and several armed robberies, police said. He was never charged but police in Guy-ana, a bordering South American coun-try, issued wanted bulletins seeking his arrest.

Pindleton’s body was found Wed-nesday in Santo Boma, 25 kilometers (16 miles) southwest of Suriname’s cap-ital, Paramaribo, police spokesman Ro Gajadhar said.

He was shot several times and his face was mutilated and burned, suggesting he was tortured, Gajadhar said. His feet and hands were bound, he said.

Police said they identified his body over the weekend, matching his fingerprints to those sent by Guyanese au-thorities.

Detectives were investigating his death as a drug-related killing, police said, without giving details. Pindleton did not have a criminal record in Su-riname, authorities said.

Pindleton had been in Suriname for several months, police said, adding that no arrests had been made in his killing.

France Plans Referendums In Its Caribbean Territories

PARIS (AP) – President Jacques Chirac gave the go-ahead recently for referendums in France’s Caribbean territories on possible changes to the way Paris administers them.

But the government also made clear that France is not moving toward grant-ing independence to the islands – Mar-tinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint-Barthelemy.

Chirac’s approval for four referendums came at a regular Cabinet meeting. No date was fixed but the government’s minister for overseas territories said she wanted the polls held before the end of the year.

Voters on all four Caribbean territories will be asked whether they want administrative reforms. If voters ap-prove changes, local officials will de-cide on exact reforms.

The referendums in Saint Martin and Saint-Barthelemy will also ask whether voters want the territories to continue being administered as part of nearby Guadeloupe or separately.

"It’s for local populations to say and to decide themselves between the status quo and a change,’’ Overseas Min-ister Brigitte Girardin said in an interview with the daily Le Figaro.

She said local officials would de-cide on the exact changes to the territories’ administration – and that Paris’ role was limited to ensuring reforms do not violate France’s constitution.

"Local answers for local problems! But be careful, there should be no mistaken debate. In no way does this consist of deciding on a first step toward independence,’’ Girardin warned. "We will watch to ensure that this campaign is carried out calmly.’’

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