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Airport inquiry: Fiery exchanges as cop testifies

Piarco Airport inquiry
Fiery exchanges as cop testifies
By Denyse Renne

The preliminary inquiry into fraud charges against eight people, stemming from the Piarco Airport development project, got heated yesterday as a police officer continued his testimony.

ASP Wayne Boyd, who is attached to the Anti-Corruption Bureau, was being cross-examined by defence attorney Frank Solomon SC.

The eight, former government ministers Brian Kuei Tung and Russell Huggins, Maritime executives John Smith, Steve Ferguson and Barbara Gomes, Northern Construction Ltd executives Ishwar Galbaransingh and Amrith Maharaj, and businesswoman Renee Pierre are accused of conspiring to convert more than $19 million under false pretences from the Airports Authority.

They face a total of 21 charges.

NCL, Maritime and Fidelity Finance and Leasing Co have also been charged.

The matter is being heard in Port-of-Spain Eighth Court before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls.

During Boyd’s testimony, he was reminded by McNicolls and Solomon that he was under cross-examination and needed to answer questions put to him and not give answers he felt like giving.

However, in one of the questions, Boyd said he needed to clarify an answer.

At this point, Solomon said that in Boyd’s haste to answer: "You fear if you tell the truth, you will compromise yourself."

A stone-faced Boyd answered: "The truth is sometimes turned around."

Boyd’s response brought raised eyebrows from several members of the prosecution and defence team.

However, Boyd again insisted that his testimony was the truth.

He was again placed in the hot seat when another defence attorney, Vernon De Lima, began cross-examining him later on.

On numerous occasions, Boyd pleaded with De Lima to lower his tone when questioning him.

Boyd said: "With all due respect, do not bawl at me."

But it was De Lima’s method of cross-examining which brought ripples of laughter from his colleagues and the eight accused.

De Lima was asking Boyd about a document which was not available in the court and Boyd responded that part of the requested document was "locked away in a vault and is the subject of an ongoing investigation."

De Lima insisted: "I want to see it, the magistrate wants to see it. I am asking you why it is not in court. It is not fair to the eight accused sitting here. Did someone tell you not to come with the document?"

De Lima reserved further cross-examination for today.

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