Caribbean Round-Up

Antigua

Elmeade Jarvis, one of the three persons found guilty in April for defrauding the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) during his tenure as accountant, has been granted bail, pending his appeal against conviction and two years in prison.

It was Jarvis’ second application for bail.

The Court of Appeal granted him EC$100,000 bail for which a $10,000 deposit is required along with sureties.

Jarvis’ bail was granted on the grounds of his serious medical condition that has him hospitalized since Aug. 6.

His attorneys appealed the conviction that there were exceptional circumstances and Jarvis could complete serving his sentence before his appeal is heard and that he had been on bail for several years before his trial and was never deemed a flight risk.

On May 18, the Court of Appeal handed down a decision that they saw no “exceptional circumstances” that would justify the granting of bail and the original request was turned down.

Jarvis was originally convicted along with Hilroy Humphreys and Jennifer Joseph of defrauding the MBS. He was the only one sentenced to two years for each of the three counts to be served concurrently.

Barbados

The Barbados government is planning to erect a tomb-like monument in memory of the late Prime Minister David Thompson.

Reports indicate that the memorial will be constructed at the site of the former leader’s burial spot at St John’s Parish Church.

The monument is expected to be completed in time to celebrate the first anniversary of the late leader’s passing.

Thompson died on Oct. 23 last year.

Guyana

The state-owned radio network in Guyana says a Jamaican dance-hall singer has been banned from the airwaves of the South American country because of obscene lyrics.

National Communications Network spokesman Martin Goolsaran says the music of Vybz Kartel was banned because it brings “nothing positive” to the entertainment industry.

He said the decision came after a week of internal debate and said they are reviewing the lyrics of other musicians and could ban them as well.

This is the first time that the government has taken such action against a specific artist. Vtbz Kartel angered local music promoters and the Tourism Ministry in September when he failed to show up at a government-supported summer music festival.

Guyana

Police on the Essequibo Coast have intercepted a fishing boat with a quantity of smuggled illegal fuel reportedly from neighboring Venezuela.

According to a report the boat containing 65 barrels of illegal fuel was intercepted at the Hampton Court foreshore.

Police seized the boat and detained the owner.

The owner can face a Guy$3 million fine or three years in jail.

Haiti

A Haitian government official in Miami says the need for affordable housing and medical services in the impoverished Caribbean island remains dire amid a cholera epidemic and earthquake recovery efforts.

Consul General Ralph Latorture says Haiti needs sustainable projects that create jobs for Haitians struggling to rebuild their neighborhoods. He said about 105,000 homes were destroyed and another 208,000 damaged in the January earthquake that crippled Haiti’s already fragile infrastructure.

He was at the time speaking in support of a Pan American Development Fund (PADF) project that aims to revitalize neighborhood in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

PADF says the project will train Haitians to build homes, roads, parks, schools and water treatment systems. The goal is to create 14,000 jobs over the next three years.

Jamaica

A male gold medalist from the recent World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, was one of 21 motorists who had their vehicles seized recently as police and traffic officers in Jamaica recently started a clampdown on vehicles sporting illegal high-definition lights.

The sprinter was also ticketed for driving a motor vehicle without a current certificate of fitness.

Traffic Division Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper that other persons of influence in the society also had their vehicles seized during the exercise.

He said the decision to target persons driving around with the bright blue or yellow lights was sparked by frequent complaints.

St. Lucia

Housing Minister Richard Frederick recently announced that he had resigned from the Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephenson King less than a week after the United States Embassy revoked his diplomatic and ordinary visa.

In a 20-minute television broadcast, Frederick said that his resignation would take effect immediately but indicated that he intends contesting the upcoming general election on behalf of the United Workers Party (UWP).

He blamed his political enemies adding that the leaks provided by the whistle blower Wikileaks had shown the extent to which his detractors were prepared to go to have his character damaged.

Trinidad

A Jamaican national who attempted to smuggle more than TT$250,000 worth of marijuana inside six trays of Jamaican patties, was jailed for one year after he pleaded guilty to a charge of trafficking in the illegal drug in the Arima Magistrate Court.

Anthony Pommels, 33, a mason of Oricco was held at Piarco International Airport, Trinidad recently after he arrived on a Caribbean Airways flight from Kingston.

The drug was found hidden inside the patties in six disposable baking trays, which were in two duffle bags.

Another Jamaican who allegedly had 1,569 kilos of marijuana strapped around his body was also arrested by the police when he arrived from Jamaica. He is to be sentenced next week.

On Sept. 15, customs officers seized more than TT$30 million worth of marijuana inside a refrigerated container with chicken parts in a southern port of Trinidad.

It is the third multi-million drug interdiction at the port for the year. In all the cases, the containers passed through a port in Jamaica.

Trinidad

More than 46 alleged gang members who were detained under the state of emergency in Trinidad and Tobago have been released because of insufficient evidence to charge them.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard has told the courts in the cases that he was of the view that there is insufficient evidence to successfully prosecute the matters.

More than 200 other alleged gang members are still in detention awaiting charges to be laid against them since the SoE was introduced by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar more than a month ago.

So far close to 4,000 persons were arrested on various offences, including murder, robbery, gun and ammunition possession, breaking the 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. curfew and outstanding warrants.

The police have stopped and arrested persons suspected to be members of a gang since the Anti-gang legislation only came into force on Aug. 15, 2011.

Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley is calling for the resignation of National Security Minister John Sandy following the collapse where alleged gang members are being freed by the courts.

He said someone in government must be held accountable for this debacle and the only person is Sandy.

Rowely said the longer government kept the country in a state of emergency, the greater the costs will be. He also pointed to the negative impact on the economy.

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