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Baksh’s niece charged with illegal voting

By Richard Charan
South Bureau

SHALOMA Ali Johnson, 22, niece of former UNC housing minister Sadiq Baksh, was brought to court in handcuffs yesterday, on charges of perjury and illegal voting.

Ali Johnson appeared before San Fernando Second Court Magistrate Margaret Alert, along with a 60-year-old woman and her two daughters who were also charged with making false declarations regarding their voter registration.

The women are alleged to have signed Election and Boundaries Commission forms to transfer their address to a street in Palmiste on which Baksh lives.

The four women were arrested and charged on the instructions of Director of Public Prosecutions Mark Mohammed, who authorised the indictment of 11 other people.

Ali Johnson, of 47 Edinburgh Gardens, Chaguanas, was charged with giving false information on October 10, in which it is alleged she sought to change her address to 304 Lazarrie Street, Palmiste.

She is also facing a charge of illegally voting in a constituency (San Fernando West) in which she did not reside.

Also brought in handcuffs were retired school teacher Shirley Ragoonanan, 60, and her daughters Shanta, 33, a businesswoman; and Shevon, 24, who is unemployed. The family, of McBean Local Road, Couva, were charged with attempting to change their address to 365, Lazarrie Street, Palmiste.

The four were defended by attorney Chateram Sinanan who criticised investigators for bringing his clients to court shackled, and paraded through the street.

He said this was done in spite of him informing the officers there was no reason to do so, under the Summary Courts Act.

He said the women, having learned of their pending arrests, made arrangements through their attorney with the policemen, to voluntarily attend the police station to have the warrants executed.

Sinanan also submitted that certain media houses had been given advanced notice of the court appearances and were waiting outside.

He said legal proceedings were to be filed to deal with the abuses.
Court prosecutor Cpl Mahabir Daljitsingh did not object to bail.

The women were granted bail in the sum of $10,000 each.
The cases were adjourned to March 7.

Inspt Ruthven Paul is spearheading investigations.

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