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Convince me!

SUPREME Court Judge Justice Leighton Pusey will today hear arguments from prosecutors why he should entertain a nolle prosequi being entered by the director of public prosecutions to discontinue criminal proceedings against the seven individuals charged in relation to the 2018 killing of an alleged Corporate Area don, effectively springing them from jail for now.

The seven, including three relatives of reputed former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke, are facing charges ranging from murder, conspiracy to murder, illegal possession of firearm and ammunition in connection to the death of 31-year-old Patrick Davis, otherwise called Pee Boy, whose body was found in Rockfort, Kingston, on Monday, March 12, 2018. If successful, Iesha Jones, Andrew Coke, Lanchester Coke, Michael Coke, David Biggs, Delmarco Cephas and Wayne Page will be released from custody but will still have the charges looming over their heads.

Yesterday Justice Pusey, who said he had not seen the document, insisted that he wanted “to hear the legal arguments” before the document was presented to the court.

“I have not seen the nolle and I am saying that before it is presented before the court, I would like to see it. Was it filed in the registry?”Justice Pusey enquired. Upon being told that the document was in the possession of the registrar’s clerk whose duty it was to hand the item to him and who was present in the courtroom, the judge, who declined to acknowledge the document, persisted, “Was it filed in the registry?

“I have not seen it. I am willing to hear arguments before seeing it…Let me make this clear about my position…I, as the court, have to be responsible for the precedent that we set. I have a responsibility to ensure that when we say a matter is set for trial, a matter is set for trial,” Justice Pusey stated.

“We are having a situation where we give the impression that if… the matter is not ready there can be a conditional nolle and the matter be brought back at another time. Then what we are saying is that the Crown has this opportunity to do that, whereas for trial date certainty it means that if we set a date and the defence says I have witnesses and my witnesses are ready, and then it turns out that those witnesses are not ready or available at another timembut the court says trial date certainty, so is it fair in relation to that?

“And though I have the power in relation to that, I need to ensure that constitutional powers used before the court are used in a way that is fair to all the persons,” he stated further, going on to note that the move would put the accused in a position where they may be free persons but would have a charge still hanging over their heads, which would mean they could be brought back before the courts in a matter of months or even years “because [they] have a conditional nolle hanging over their heads”. Consequently, he said the prosecution should this morning present its arguments before the court, followed by a response from at least three members of the defence team.

Section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act prescribes that at any stage before the court renders judgment, the DPP may discontinue criminal proceedings in any court by entering a nolle prosequi. She may do so by stating in open court where the proceedings are pending or by informing the clerk of the courts in writing that the Crown does not intend to continue such proceedings. Consequently, the proceedings will end and on receipt of such notice the accused shall at once be discharged in respect of the charge for which the nolle prosequi is entered.

However, the entering of a nolle prosequi by the DPP is not an acquittal on the charges being tried and the DPP has the power to bring back or re-indict the matter. A nolle prosequi can be entered even though the accused person has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge on the indictment, for example pleading guilty to manslaughter instead of murder, as long as the court has not yet passed sentence.

 

This Day in History – April 22

Today is the 112th day of 2021. There are 253 days left in the year.

TODAY’S HIGHGLIGHT

1978: The One Love Peace Concert is held at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The aim was to bring together Kingston’s politically divided communities, which were aligned to the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) and rival Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

 

OTHER EVENTS

1500: Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral is the first European to land in Brazil, putting ashore in what today is Porto Seguro.

1509: Henry VIII becomes king of England following the death of his father, Henry VII.

1529: Treaty of Saragossa defines interests of Spain and Portugal in the Pacific; Spain gives up claim to the East Indies.

1864: Congress authorises the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” on US coins.

1889: At noon, by federal decree American homesteaders swarm into the OklahomaTerritory (Indian Territory) staking claim to free land.

1898: The first shot of the Spanish-American War rings out as the USS Nashville captures a Spanish merchant ship off Key West, Florida.

1931: Egypt and Iraq sign treaty of friendship – the first pact between Egypt and another Arab state.

1956: China appoints Dalai Lama chairman of committee to prepare Tibet for regional autonomy within Chinese People’s Republic.

1970: Millions of Americans concerned about the environment observe the first “Earth Day”.

1975: First Vietnamese refugees arrive on US West Coast while South Vietnam is falling to communists.

1990: Pro-Iranian kidnappers in Lebanon free American hostage Robert Polhill after nearly 39 months of captivity.

1992: Gasoline leaked from a nearby refinery explodes in the sewerage system of Guadalajara, Mexico, ripping open streets and killing 194 people.

1993: A military court in Cairo sentences to death seven of 49 Islamic militants for attacks against tourists.

1994: Former US President Richard M Nixon, who was the first American president to resign from office, dies.

1995: Hutu refugees flee the refugee camp at Kibeho, Zaire, after thousands are gunned down by soldiers or trampled to death in stampedes.

1996: Italy takes a turn to the left as a coalition of parties dominated by former Communists wins legislative majorities.

1998: Despite a last-minute plea from the president of Honduras, the US state of Arizona executes a Honduran citizen for murder.

1999: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) destroys Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s home in Belgrade with bombs, claiming it is part of his military machine.

2000: Six-year-old Elian Gonzalez is reunited with his father from Cuba after a frantic and forceful end to a five-month stand-off between the US Government and the Cuban boy’s Miami relatives.

2007: Gunmen execute 23 members of the ancient Yazidi religious sect in northern Iraq after stopping their bus and separating them from followers of other faiths.

2008: The office of Colombia’s chief prosecutor orders the arrest of President Alvaro Uribe’s cousin over alleged links to paramilitary gangs.

2009: Taliban militants extend their grip in north-western Pakistan, pushing out from a valley where the government has agreed to impose Islamic law and patrolling villages as close as 60 miles (96 kilometres) from the capital.

2010: US President Barack Obama rebukes Wall Street for risky practices, even as he seeks its leaders’ help for “updated, common sense” banking regulations to head off any new financial crisis.

2011: Syrian security forces fire bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of protesters across the country, killing at least 75 people in the bloodiest day of the month-long uprising against President Bashar Assad.

2012: The US and Afghanistan reach a deal on a long-delayed strategic partnership agreement that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade beyond 2014, the deadline for most foreign forces to withdraw.

2014: Most Sherpa mountain climbers decide to leave Mount Everest, confirming a walkout certain to disrupt the climbing season that was already marked by grief over the 16 lives lost in Everest’s deadliest disaster.

2016: More than 170 countries sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, a landmark treaty that sought to control and reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It takes effect in November 2016.

 

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

Henry Fielding, English author (1707-1754); Immanuel Kant, German philosopher (1724-1804); Vladimir Lenin, Russian communist leader (1870-1924); Sir Yehudi Menuhin, US-born violinist (1916-1999); Sir Sidney Nolan, Australian artist (1917-1993); Aaron Spelling, US television producer (1923-2006); Alan Bond, Australian entrepreneur and America’s Cup sponsor (1938-2015); Jack Nicholson, US actor (1937- ); John Waters, US film director (1946- )

– AP

315 farmers benefit from irrigation consultancy project

A total of 315 farmers from 11 districts in St Thomas and St Andrew have benefited from irrigation equipment and techniques to boost crop production under the Irrigation Systems Consultancy Project.

The consultancy was executed through a partnership involving the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

The eight-month-long project, which began in July 2020 and ended last month, was a component under the wider Yallahs-Hope On-Farm Water Management Project. Under the initiative, farmers were equipped with rainwater harvesting sheds, drip irrigation systems and critical skills to improve irrigation.

Speaking at a JIS think tank on Tuesday, watershed officer at NEPA, André Reid, said that the project was a success despite the impact of the pandemic.

“There were moments where we had discussions with RADA and we would have heard that there are no tanks available, that there are no drip-irrigation systems available. So it was a whole different ball game in terms of implementing this component within a pandemic, but RADA stood their ground. They were able to pull this through despite the existing realities. They were able to deliver a successful project at the end of it,” he said.

Reid said that the farmers have been practising what they have learned. “Even now, from time to time, some of the farmers will WhatsApp me with images of how they are actually going about using some of the techniques that they would have learned from RADA to go out and supplement their income. One particular farmer, Mr Garfield, actually goes out and installs drip-irrigation systems now as part of his earning potential. So all of that is going beyond just what we would have tasked RADA with,” Reid said.

Director of project management and coordination at RADA, Dwayne Henry, said the farmers responded positively to the project and have seen marked improvements in crop yields. “We have farmers, currently, who are undertaking strawberry production, Irish potato, celery, onion [in] areas where you would not normally see those crops being planted. So, therefore, those high-value crops are now being enabled in those areas, further increasing the income of the farmers… because they now have a sustainable way of doing it,” he said.

The Irrigation Systems Consultancy project, said RADA, is aimed at provide capacity-building as well as solidify rainwater harvesting and irrigation practices.

The 315 farmers who benefited from the project hail from the communities of Mount Lebanon/Freetown, Content Gap, Bloxborough and Mavis Bank in St Andrew and Ness Castle, Richmond Gap, Minto, Penlyne Castle, Carrick Hill and Windsor Forest in St Thomas.

Other participating entities included the Forestry Department, Water Resources Authority, National Water Commission, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, Meteorological Service of Jamaica, and the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

JUTC cuts high overtime payments

THE cash-strapped Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), which is faced with a net operating loss of some $8 billion this year, appears to be getting a handle on its overtime expenses – a major expense.

Last July, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis called out the State-owned bus company for extensive expenditure on overtime payments in a performance audit report tabled in Parliament.JUTC Managing Director Paul Abrahams told the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at a meeting yesterday that the company’s management had taken a strategic decision on how to deal with the issue of overtime. He said overtime payments have dropped by 64 per cent, translating to $121.5 million being spent out of the company’s overtime budget of $339.8 million, up to March.He also told the committee that the JUTC’s staff has been reduced to close to 1,900 now; however, while the company makes every effort to curtail its expenditures it continues to grapple with revenue losses. The auditor general’s report showed that between 2014 and 2019 the JUTC had unapproved staff which was costing the company an accumulated $1.15 billion. It was noted that the positions included 145 who were given permanent positions, which the JUTC in June 2020 shaved to 92.

The company’s overtime budget, said the report, had been overshot by $728.6 million, despite the excess staff capacity, with claims ranging between 71 per cent and 182 per cent of some employees’ annual salaries. Overtime hours ran from 18 to 83 hours for a fortnight, the report said.

Meanwhile, Abrahams told the PAAC that the JUTC continues to lean heavily on government subvention. He said revenue has been significantly hampered by the COVID-19 crisis, which had forced an all-seated arrangement on the buses, exacerbated by competition from other players in the public transport sector.”Concession [fares] are non-existent [and] charter fares are non-existent,” he said, noting that the projected revenue of $260 million from charters had been lost, as had the fares from students, which accounted for 40 per cent of the company’s ridership. “However we are doing our best to still provide the service that is needed,” he said.The company’s projected operating losses for this fiscal year is approximately the same as losses for the last fiscal year, and just $800 million less than its audited losses for the 2017/18 fiscal year.Fares were down $1.3 billion or 55 per cent at the end of January, and the company will once again be depending on $4.42 billion from central government coffers in statutory write-offs. This is out of a total of $7.7 billion which date back to 2012.

The JUTC needs $1.85 billion to purchase parts for units that are out of service, as well as another 440 buses to move commuters efficiently.It also owes Johnson’s Petroleum $16.2 million for the supply of petrol.

– Alphea Saunders

 

PHOTO: #PlantATree

United States Chargé d’Affaires John McIntyre (left) and Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr (second right), along with their families, plant two trees at the lawns of the embassy in St Andrew in commemoration of Earth Day, today.

 

T&T PM Remains COVID Positive & In Isolation

Two weeks after he tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley remains positive with the virus, according to an official statement.

The statement from the Office of the Prime Minister said that Rowley, 71, was tested Monday for COVID-19 “and the results remain positive”. Rowley had first tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, April 6.

“Dr Rowley will remain in isolation at the official residence in Blenheim and under the care and supervision of the medical professionals from the Tobago Regional Health Authority,” the statement said.

Rowley, from isolation in Tobago, defended his administration’s policy from Trinidad opposition United National Congress (UNC) criticism.

Writing on his Facebook page, Rowley said on Sunday night he saw opposition legislator, Rudranath Indarsingh “apparently stumbling to read an attack on the latest rollback of selected national activities on the day when we reported almost record levels of infection in community spread of the COVID-19 virus”.

He said Indarsingh claimed “we should not have any of these restrictions because they will destroy the economy,” adding “what do they think an explosion of Covid-19 sickness will do, protect and expand the economy?”

“If we don’t do any disruption now as the UNC is demanding, will the economy be better off in a full-blown covid19 takeover eventually requiring full-scale lockdown as some countries are currently experiencing?”

Indarsingh told a news conference on Sunday that while the government has said that COVID-19 has crashed the economy, the UNC maintains it is the poor economic decisions that led to the current state of the economy.

“The spikes in covid19 cases must be placed at feet of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, who decided not to implement any lockdown until after the Easter holidays knowing fully well of the projected heightened activity in Tobago as reports were that guesthouses and flights were booked.

“The Prime Minister stood by and played God knowing that travel to Tobago would have a risk not just for Tobago but for the entire country. Our view is that they deliberately ignored dangers associated with the Easter weekend in the face of increased economic activity, and we are of the opinion that this ignoring of what was the reality was because an election in Tobago was imminent,” the opposition legislator said.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Health showed that Trinidad has recorded three deaths and 164 new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours.

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St. Vincent: Harbor Filled as Volcano Continues to Erupt

A Venezuelan vessel with relief supplies is currently unable to dock in Kingstown due to the high traffic of ships at the Port.

The vessel which is sitting out at sea is carrying supplies from St Lucia and Cuba. It was supposed to arrive at 1:30 pm Wednesday but there is no room for the vessel to dock.

The situation has been described as a bit chaotic as now the other vessels that are docked are trying to offload their supplies quickly to make room for the Venezuelan ship.

Seismic activity at La Soufrière continued the pattern established after the explosive activity on April 18.

The UWI Seismic Research Center says small long-period and hybrid earthquakes continued to be recorded. The network also recorded a few rockfalls and volcano-tectonic earthquakes.

No seismic tremor has been recorded in the last 12 hours.

Vincentians continue to clean ash from their surroundings as well as cope in evacuation centres across the island.

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Haiti Lottery Scandal Forces Chief’s Resignation

The director of Haiti’s State Lottery has resigned after a finance report revealed potential misappropriation of funds at the agency.

The lottery’s employee union, which earlier complained about not being paid for three months, had accused General Manager Margareth Fortuné of embezzlement. The government’s anti-corruption unit then searched the state’s lottery on Tuesday.

Fortuné had been the lottery manager since 2016. Source

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US Coast Guard in Major Maritime Drug Busts

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5The USCG revealed on Tuesday that the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Tampa successfully offloaded some 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms) of cocaine in Miami, Florida, following an interception well over a week ago.

In a separate bust, the aircrew of US Coast Guard (USCG) MH-60T Jayhawk intercepted a vessel transporting almost 1,052 pounds (477 kilograms) of cocaine near Puerto Rico. The seized haul, valued around $20 million, was offloaded at USCG Sector San Juan by Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon.

Agents conducting a maritime patrol flight reportedly spotted a “low profile vessel” near the coast of Punta Gallinas, Colombia, on April 9 and alerted a fellow law enforcement team of the vessel.

Video of the interdiction was also released by the service.

Soon after, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Tampa discovered 87 bales of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $94.6 million.

Three suspects were detained and their “vessel was destroyed as a hazard to navigation.”

Coast Guard Cutter Tampa's crew offloaded approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $94.6 million at Base Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, April 20, 2021. The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command's enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
USCG/Chief Petty Officer Charly Henge
Coast Guard Cutter Tampa’s crew offloaded approximately 5,500 pounds of cocaine, worth an estimated $94.6 million at Base Miami Beach, Miami, Florida, April 20, 2021. The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).

“This event is the perfect example of numerous key partners unifying our efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations who look to exploit the maritime environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, public affairs officer for the USCG’s Seventh District.

The release highlights that suspects taken into custody are provided, shelter, food, water and “basic medical attention.” Furthermore, USCG crew members reportedly donned personal protective equipment to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure.

“The suspects are reported to be in good health,” USCG claimed.

The same cannot be said for the cocaine trafficking suspects apprehended some 45 miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, on April 17, as “one of the suspected smugglers was injured and needed to be medevaced,” according to a news release on the haul.

All three of the suspected smugglers were from the Dominican Republic and may face drug trafficking charges via the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

A total of 18 bales of cocaine were offloaded. The USCG estimates the street value of the haul to be around $20 million.

The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon crew offloaded nearly $20 million in seized cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan Tuesday, following the interdiction of a suspected drug smuggling vessel, approximately 45 nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
USCG
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon crew offloaded nearly $20 million in seized cocaine at Coast Guard Base San Juan Tuesday, following the interdiction of a suspected drug smuggling vessel, approximately 45 nautical miles north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

“Stopping illegal drug trafficking vessels like the one interdicted Saturday is inherently dangerous and involves a high level of skill and risk,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, commander of USCG Sector San Juan.

AJ Collazo, a special agent with the US Drug Enforcement Administration, noted “more seizures like this one can be expected” as US federal law enforcement agencies continue to investigate alleged transnational criminal operations out of South American, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

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World View: US Police Chiefs Hail Chauvin Verdict, India’s Record Virus Cases, US Rejoins Climate Fight, More

April 22, 2021

Alternate text

Police chiefs across the U.S. say Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the death of George Floyd is a step toward restoring trust in the justice system.

President Joe Biden is convening a virtual summit to rally the world’s worst polluters to move faster against climate change.

In India, where authorities not long ago thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them, infections are now soaring to record levels, pushing health systems to the breaking point. AP explains the situation.

Also this morning:

  • Indonesia searches for missing sub that may be too deep to retrieve
  • US officials say Biden preparing to recognize Armenian genocide
  • Burning Man organizers consider vaccine requirements

KARL RITTER

Southern Europe News Director

The Associated Press

Rome

The Rundown

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Not long after a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of killing George Floyd, police chiefs across the U.S. started speaking up. And it wasn’t to defend the police. New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said…Read More

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Just as the guilty verdict was about to be read in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, police in Ohio shot and killed a Black teenager in broad daylight during a confrontation. The shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, who was…Read More

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is convening a coalition of the willing, the unwilling, the desperate-for-help and the avid-for-money for a global summit Thursday aimed at rallying the world’s worst polluters to move faster against climate …Read More

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NEW DELHI (AP) — The world’s fastest pace of spreading infections and the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases are pushing India further into a deepening and deadly health care crisis. While India is massive — it’s the world’s second-most …Read More

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NEW YORK (AP) — How long does protection from COVID-19 vaccines last? Experts don’t know yet because they’re still studying vaccinated people to see when protection might wear off. How well the vaccines work against emerging variants will also de…Read More

OTHER TOP STORIES

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — George Floyd’s killing last year and the protests that followed led to a wave of police reforms in dozens of states, from changes in use-of-force polic…Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is facing calls to recognize the Armenian genocide of more than a century ago, something he pledged to do as a candidate but that coul…Read More

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The search for a missing Indonesian submarine on Thursday focused around an oil slick north of the resort island of Bali with help from Australia,…Read More

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Burning Man organizers have said that they are considering requiring attendees to prove they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 if the organizers move forw…Read More

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