2005-06-02 / Caribbean Corner

CARIBBEAN ROUNDUP

FORMER TRINIDAD PM Panday charged for corruption

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, (AP) – Former Trinidad & Tobago prime min-ister, Basdeo Panday, was prepared to spend last night in the remand yard of the Frederick Street Prison after he refused to accept US$125,000 bail of-fer set by a magistrate.

Panday was arrested by members of the Anti-Corruption Investigation Bu-reau (ACIB) at the Opposition Office at Charles Street, Port of Spain, just after meeting a delegation of Indian MPs who were in the country for the Indian Arrival Day celebrations over the weekend. Members of the delegation, including Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, were present when the officers arrived.

Heavily armed officers had earlier in the day searched the Bryans Gate home of Panday, who was in Port of Spain at the time.

Mrs Panday later surrendered to the ACIB with her attorneys Kamla Per-sad-Bissessar and Prakash Ramadhar. All the accused were taken to the ACIB offices at Henry Street, Port of Spain, before being escorted to the St Vincent Street Court.

Panday, who served as prime minister from 1995-2001, appeared before Magistrate Ejenny Espinet charged with receiving the sum of US$41.600 in his bank account on December 30, 1998.

The charges stem from ongoing in-vestigations into a London bank ac-count owned by Panday and his wife, Oma, who yesterday, was also assisting police with their investigations.

Police sources said that she would most likely face a similar charge like her husband.

Earlier, Carlos John, who served as a minister in Panday’s cabinet was re-leased on US$125,000 bail when he appeared before Magistrate Espinet on a charge of corruptly providing US$41,-600 to Panday and his wife, Oma, on Christmas Eve in 1998.

Meanwhile, businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh, has also been slapped with a similar charge like John.

It is not known whether Panday would remain in custody until his 7 June hearing.

Alleged corruption involving the construction of the new Piarco Inter-national Airport has dogged the opposition United National Congress party, which was in power at the time the airport opened in 2000.

Justice Minister blames JLP for delay on hangings

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Jam-aica’s Justice Minister has blamed the opposition for the delay in the resumption of hanging and urged Jamaicans to put pressure on the Jamaica Labor Party to start discussions with the Government on the issue.

The comments from Attorney Gen-eral and Justice Minister AJ Nicholson comments come amid calls for the Government to resume hanging.

Many Jamaicans believe the resump-tion of hanging would help to reduce the number of murders.

Those who have been calling for capital punishment contend that people responsible for over 600 murders that have been recorded since the start of this year would have been deterred if they knew they were likely to face the gallows.

Mr Nicholson said the PJ Patterson administration is committed to address-ing the crime situation but is being hampered by the Opposition’s seeming unwillingness to discuss related issues such as hanging.

The Justice Minister said the issue has become more urgent in light of the spiralling murder rate and public calls for the Government to resume hanging.

However, the Jamaica Labor Party is accusing the Justice Minister of failing to fulfill a promise made earlier this year.

JLP spokesman on National Secu-rity, Derrick Smith, said Mr. Nicholson is yet to provide the opposition with information which was requested in order them to participate in bi-partisan talks on capital punishment.

“When we last met in March, Mr. Nicholson was supposed to provide the opposition with some vital information in terms of people on death row, and some sort of chronological development indicating at exactly what stage each individual’s case is at,” he said.

“Mr Nicholson has not done that and to hear him going somewhere in Jamaica and making statements about the opposition is ridiculous.”

While the death penalty remains on the books, several international human rights conventions bar the Government from proceeding with hangings until convicted persons exhaust all appeal channels.

The last hanging in Jamaica took place in 1981.

Guyana to benefit from multi-million dollar fund

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – Guyana will benefit from a Euro 25 million plan to assist countries to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ram-sammy said the European Union (EU) recently signed the first-phase agreement with the World Health Organi-zation (WHO) and Guyana would benefit from the safe motherhood and childhood surveillance and strengthen its malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/ AIDS programs.

The funding is made available under an initiative called the “U/WHO Strate-gic Partnership,” Ramsammy said.

He said Guyana was also highlighted at the just-concluded 58th World Health Assembly in Geneva where the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organi-zation (PAHO) selected the country “as a flagship for the implementation of the “Three Ones’ that includes a “National Co-ordinating Body,” “One National Plan” and “One Monitoring and Evaluation.”

“Guyana has been working closely with various countries to combat the deadly HIV/AIDS and as a result Guy-ana has made progress,” Ramsammy told reporters.

The minister, who has recently re-turned from Geneva, said he also at-tended the Second Annual President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) meeting in Ethiopia.

At the Geneva meeting, Guyana was among 169 countries, which adopted a Treaty for Tobacco use and its effects after deliberations on the dangers of smoking.

He said legislators would soon de-bate legislation on the issue.

CTO gather in New York for Caribbean Week

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) – The issue of air transport will be a key agenda item when officials of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) gather for Caribbean Week in New York from yesterday to Saturday.

Caribbean Week in New York was created by the CTO to promote and celebrate the culture and heritage of the Caribbean.

The CTO officials who include commissioners of tourism and the board of directors will have a packed business agenda to go with the program of consumer-focused events in which they will participate. Apart from air transport, the grouping will discuss a report by the consulting firm, CHL Con-sulting Ltd., on institutional strengthening of the CTO.

Regional airlines such as BWIA and Air Jamaica have been facing financial difficulties, sparking fears about the possible impact on Caribbean tourism.

Meanwhile, the CTO board of di-rectors, which includes both public and private sector representatives of the tourism industry, will also get up-dates on the implementation of the sustainable tourism program funded by the European Union and the 2007 cricket World Cup.

There will also be a presentation by the American television network, MTV on plans to create a Caribbean network. Both meetings will be held at the New York Hilton on Thursday.

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