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PNM Energy Minister faces 7 corruption charges.
« on: January 08, 2006, 09:02:25 AM »
Warrant for Eric Williams.
By Sasha Mohammed - T&T Express.


A warrant was yesterday issued for the arrest of Energy Minister Eric Williams in connection with bribery allegations made by PNM councillor Dansam Dhansook nearly two years ago.
Justice of the Peace Akbar Khan yesterday afternoon signed the warrant at the Richmond Street, Port of Spain, police station, after Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson issued the directive to police to charge Williams for seven counts of corruptly receiving money from Dhansook three years ago.
It was via two letters to Prime Minister Patrick Manning two years ago that Dhansook had alleged he had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Williams and former Works Minister Franklin Khan in exchange for lucrative seismic contracts in Mayaro.
This letter was read out in Parliament last April by UNC Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Manning had referred the matter to the Integrity Commission for investigation.
Khan subsequently resigned as Minister and later, chairman of the PNM when he was charged with six counts of bribery last year. Williams had, however, maintained his innocence and refused to step down from office.
Yesterday, Justice of the Peace Akbar Khan said Williams bail was set at $350,000.
Sources said, though, that up to press time, the Energy Minister had not yet turned himself into police custody.
Williams is being represented by attorney Ravi Rajcoomar and Senior Counsel Desmond Allum, and is due to appear in the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court tomorrow to answer to the charges. Fresh bail is also expected to be set at this time.
In an immediate response, the Opposition UNC yesterday called for the immediate resignation of Williams.
Party chairman Senator Wade Mark said in a telephone interview:
"We strongly urge Minister Williams to follow the precedent set by his colleague Franklin Khan and resign from his Cabinet post. Failing this, the UNC will be left with no choice but to table a motion of no confidence in Minister Williams in Parliament."
Mark also said the UNC is not surprised by this development, but "shocked and concerned it took so long to lay charges, in light of the fact that it was the same bribery allegations which were referred to in the comprehensive report by Inspector Wellington Virgil of the Integrity Commission submitted to the DPP five months ago".
He said the Opposition found these charges "extremely suspicious, having come on heels of the DPP virtually letting six top government officials off the hook for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the other matter related to this case".
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Former minister on 7 counts of corruptly receiving $75,000.
By: Hayden Mills.


$.6M BAIL.
No PNM officials were in court when former energy minister Eric Williams appeared before a magistrate yesterday charged with corruptly receiving $75,000 from PNM Councillor Dansam Dhansook.
But there was a small group of supporters who shielded the politician from the media as he left the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court.
When Williams surrendered to the Fraud Squad around 8.30 a.m. yesterday he was granted bail in the sum of $350,000 - $50,000 for each of the seven counts of corruptly receiving money.
However, when Williams appeared before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim at the Port of Spain Fourth (A) Magistrates' Court around 10.25 a.m. his bail was reset at $600,000 to cover the seven charges.
Snr Supt Glenroy Woodley, head of the Fraud Squad, laid the indictable charges against Williams, of 69, Luis Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.
Williams was represented by Senior Counsel Desmond Allum and attorney Rajiv Persad while police prosecutor Roodal Harrylal appeared for the State.
Harrylal told the court that Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson had sent a message that a senior attorney would be appointed to the case at the next adjournment date.
As the seven charges were read to Williams, he stood silently and motionless in his black suit in the holding docks.
After the charges were read he was told he was not called upon to plead.
Lee Kim said that she was keeping the matter before her since Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls, who usually hears high profile matters, had his plate filled with cases.
His brother Ernest Williams and mother Edris Todd-Williams were among the handful of family members present in court and in the precinct of the court while arrangements were being made to get the certified deeds to be used to secure bail.
He eventually left court around 2.30 in the afternoon and supporters pushed away photographers and journalists as Williams went to his BMW car, flashed a smile and ventured a wave of the hand before getting in the vehicle.
Dhansook, in an undated letter to Prime Minister Patrick Manning, said he paid bribes to both former works and transport minister Franklin Khan ($120,000) and Williams for work on an oil exploration contract.
Khan is now before the courts on six corruption charges arising from the scandal while Williams tendered his resignation on Sunday night. Williams will reappear in court on January 19.
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TT at gunpoint - Amnesty aims to take firearms off the streets.
By Suzanne Sheppard - Newsday.


Last Year, Trinidad and Tobago recorded its highest ever murder rate — 381 brutal killings, the majority of which remain unsolved. Firearms were the weapons of choice in 272 of those killings and also figured prominently in other serious crimes, including the large number of kidnappings and robberies throughout the year.
But even before 2005’s unprecedented increase in gun-related violence, this country had been grappling with problems associated with illegal firearms and ammunition for several years. There are records of gun smuggling taking place between this country and Venezuela from as far back as the 1800s, when firearms and gun powder were shipped across to the mainland to Venezuelan freedom fighters who were fighting the Spanish for independence.
On July 27, 1990, illegally obtained firearms were used by members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen group in its failed attempt to overthrow the Trinidad and Tobago Government. Then Prime Minister ANR Robinson and several members of his National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) administration were held hostage at the Red House during the short-lived coup.
The heavily armed group also attacked police headquarters and in the chaos that ensued, dozens were killed and hundreds wounded.
The Jamaat al Muslimeen gunmen, who eventually surrendered, were eventually pardoned, escaping prosecution for that armed insurrection.
The extent of this country’s link to illegal arms smuggling was underscored when Lance Small, a member of the Jamaat al Muslimeen who had participated in the 1990 attempted coup, was extradited to the United States on arms smuggling charges. Last August, Small was sentenced to more than 12 years in a US federal prison for trying to smuggle 60 AK-47 rifles, ten submachine guns and ten machine gun silencers into Trinidad and Tobago.
According to law enforcement sources, the problem of illegal firearms has been made worse in recent years with the influx of criminal deportees into the country. That situation, they claim, has had a significant impact on the number and type of weapons being smuggled into the country and there is an increased level of sophistication in the weapons used and the way crimes are committed.
The quantity of arms which continues to surface indicates the availability of firearms on the streets.
In response, Government has reviewed laws, regulations and administration mechanisms in an effort to gain more effective control over the production and movement of small arms and light weapons in the country. One such measure was passage of the Firearms (Amendment) Act in early 2004 (see sidebar story).
Amidst attempts at other anti-crime initiatives by the authorities, the announcement early last week by FIFA Vice President Austin "Jack" Warner of a Soca Warriors Gun Amnesty Plan brought the firearms issue centre stage.
Piggybacking on the popularity of the Germany-bound Trinidad and Tobago senior football team, Warner and officials of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) plan to use members of the team to encourage gunmen and gangsters to give up their weapons.
The proposal involves the launch of a multi-media campaign, utilising popular music, radio ads and flyers.
National Security Minister Martin Joseph, who last year said a gun amnesty would not work in this country, when the idea was first raised by some anti-crime private sector groups in the country, has expressed support for the Soca Warriors Gun Amnesty Plan.
"It has always been the position of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of National Security that all citizens have a pivotal part in the fight against crime," he said in a statement soon after the initiative was announced.
Under a gun amnesty, people can hand in their illegal firearms without being prosecuted. For a stipulated period of time, the police encourage people to hand in illegally-held guns and ammunition, imitation firearms and air guns which can be used for criminal purpose and all other unwanted guns and ammunition.
This initiative has been attempted in several countries with mixed results. In July 2004, a Brazilian woman handed in some 1,300 firearms to the authorities and in return collected $65,000 under an amnesty. Brazil had the world’s fourth-highest murder rate, with 40,000 gun-related murders in one year alone.
In the United Kingdom, a month-long gun amnesty in March 2003 saw more than 40,000 guns and just under a million rounds of ammunition handed over to the police — considerably more than initial estimates of 25,000 weapons. However, some opposition MPs and community activists claimed the measure did little to stamp out Britain’s growing gun culture.
A similar exercise in Toronto, Canada, late last year yielded 261 guns and 1,500 rounds of ammunition. In South Africa, where close to 20,000 people were murdered, a three-month gun amnesty saw more than 30,000 weapons being handed into the police last March. A further 8,400 were confiscated at road blocks and during police searches.
Folade Mutota, coordinator of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), a local group that has spearheaded several community-based gun control initiatives, told Sunday Newsday a gun amnesty will only work in Trinidad and Tobago if it is done alongside effective law enforcement and there is a social structure in place to allow former gunmen to be reintegrated into their communities and "satisfy their basic needs in a legal way".
"I don’t know that we are prepared for a gun amnesty," she said.
"We are dealing with a sub-culture that has developed around acquisition and use of these weapons. Until we are able to effectively deal with the lifestyle and expectations, until there are social buffers in place to prevent backsliding into criminal activities, a gun amnesty will have limited success, if any." The Soca Warriors Gun Amnesty Plan is expected to get going next month.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2006, 06:47:10 AM by Flex »
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