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Tale of two mysteries

THE country still awaits a solution to the mystery surrounding the release of two Barbadians charged with fishing illegally in our waters. The Bajan boat captains were freed on February 9 when the Police prosecutor in the Scarborough Magistrate’s Court, unexpectedly and without giving a reason, offered no evidence against them. Since then, however, a mysterious cloak of silence has enshrouded this matter, inspite of growing public concern. There is a general suspicion that the context of the charges, that is the maritime border dispute which had arisen between TT and Barbados, was somehow the reason behind the withdrawal. If that were the truth, then it would be an unauthorised interference in the judicial process. The fact is that only Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson has the legal authority to cancel prosecutions in our courts. And the abrupt ending of the case against the Bajans must have been quite a surprise to him since he promptly called for an explanation from the Tobago Police.

It was there it seemed, that attempts to cover up this matter began. The first report the DPP received from the Police was apparently unsatisfactory so he sent it back to them. We understand he subsequently received a second report but since then, even in the face of growing public concern, we have heard nothing from the DPP and, it seems to us, this troubling matter seems to have fallen into limbo. But whether or not the Police are playing games, the DPP cannot afford to leave this mystery unsolved. He owes the country an explanation if only because he has an inescapable responsibility to preserve the integrity and inviolability of the country’s judicial process. Our constitution vests him soley with this duty; he and he alone has been given the power to halt prosecutions in our courts and it is incumbent upon him to act decisively against anyone else or any other party assuming such authority. For him to permit the interference, as apparently occurred in the Bajan fishermen’s case, to go unrecognised, unacknowledged, undisclosed and without some form of warning or condemnation or even punishment would be to accept a dangerous precedent, one that strikes at the heart of our judicial system. That is why this mystery continues to cry out for a solution.

Equally disturbing is another mystery, this one arising from the discovery of quantities of cocaine in diplomatic bags destined for New York, London and Toronto. While the Police have made two arrests in TT in connection with this offence, it seems to us that use of the pouches by drug traffickers requires the most intense and widespread investigation involving personnel attached to our consulate offices in these three cities. Obviously, this pernicious and embarrassing breach of the diplomatic bags is the work of an international ring of traffickers whose identities should not be such a difficult problem, since the parcels of cocaine would have been addressed to certain parties and would have had to be collected by them. The country would expect that the Police are conducting as meticulous, an investigation into this scandal as they did into corruption in the Piarco Development Project and that other arrests will soon be made both at home and abroad. In this context, it was quite disturbing to hear Opposition Chief Whip Ganga Singh, speaking in the House on Friday and calling the names of three persons to whom the cocaine was apparently consigned. What are the Police doing about this? Have any officers gone to these three cities? Have they asked Interpol for help? Are they serious in rooting out this entire drug ring?

Trinidad and Tobago News

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