Caribbean News Round-up

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Venezuela: Ex-prosecutor is a ‘thug’

_86384430_c7b8b5e2-1f9c-424d-aa31-bd3de64fffbf[BBC] – The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly has labelled Franklin Nieves – a former prosecutor who has said the judiciary convicted an innocent man – a “thug” and a “traitor”.

National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello also alleged that Mr Nieves – who has left the country – had been bribed.

Mr Nieves was a prosecutor in the trial of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez – a trial he now calls a sham.

He says Mr Lopez, who was sentenced to almost 14 years in jail, is innocent.

Mr Nieves left Venezuela last week for the United States and has been telling international media that Mr Cabello ordered the arrest of Mr Lopez to make sure the opposition leader was “taken out of the political game”.

Human rights activists had long said that the trial against Mr Lopez was politically motivated and that it had not been conducted fairly.

Mr Nieves, one of the lead prosecutors in the case, has given details which apparently back up activists’ concerns.

The former prosecutor alleges that evidence against Mr Lopez was fabricated and witnesses were told to give statements which would ensure the opposition leader’s conviction.

Mr Nieves said he could no longer live with the guilt of having sent an innocent man to prison and that was why he had left for the US, where he is planning on seeking asylum.

 

CARICOM team identifies deficienes in Haiti elections

_86324443_86324442[CMC] – Despite the significantly reduced cases of violence in Sunday’s presidential and legislative polls in Haiti, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) electoral observation mission said inadequate space at polling stations, anomalies pertaining to voting norms and inadequate legislation are among the issues that need to be resolved for future voting.

And it said that unless the problems are corrected, there could be “undesirable sequels in the future”.

In a preliminary statement released by chief of the mission, Dr. Robert Surujbally yesterday, the team gave a glimpse into the matters which will be discussed in it full report.

The eight-member mission, which visited 127 polling stations, pointed to: too many anomalies pertaining to voting norms, but noted that it could not be ascertained whether those were accidental or due to deficiencies in the training of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) staff; and varying methodologies in the poll practices, on occasion, being used by CEP officers during the course of the day; for example, different fingers were stained as a form of identification.

One of the other major issues was inadequacy of physical space in polling stations.

According to the CARICOM team, this led to the secrecy of the ballot being compromised (persons inside and outside of the Polling Stations could see for whom the voter was casting his/her ballot), and also resulted in party agents being too close to CEP staff, “thus, on occasion, intimidating the officers”.

The areas in which CEP staff had to operate were described by the mission as being “sauna-like conditions” which occasionally led to frayed nerves, although the team never saw any altercations be between CEP officials and voters evolving into physical confrontations.

“Nevertheless it was the considered opinion of the team that five polling stations in one room would obviously not be conducive to an optimal working environment,” the mission said, noting that having several polling stations in one building  led to  some degree of turbulence at the entrance of the polling station complex.

“The absence of trained, qualified and experienced ushers (information clerks/ ‘orienteurs’) exacerbated this problem.”

As for the tabulation of votes, the CARICOM mission said there would be more transparency if the methodology of processing the tally sheets – not the content of the tally sheets – was shared with political parties and other important stakeholders.

“It would help matters if, prior to the elections, relevant laws were to be enacted, so as to assist any Electoral Court/Tribunal in carrying out its deliberations,” it added.

The electoral mission also suggested that the Provisional Electoral Council should be a permanent body, rather than one whose members change with every electoral cycle, to ensure that it enjoys greater autonomy and authority in handling electoral matters, particularly as it pertains to political parties.

During Sunday’s first round of presidential elections and second round of legislative elections, 53 presidential candidates vied for the support of the 5.8 million registered voters. The run-off for the second round of legislative elections, for seats for the Lower House and the Senate in Haiti’s 119 constituencies, followed the August 9 first round which about 2,000 candidates from over 100 political parties contested.

Spokesman for Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council Dumel Richardson said preliminary results could be issued in about 10 days but final results are not expected until at least late November.

Man to face 54 charges in Canada

arrest[Trinidad Express] – A 52-year-old man has been ordered extradited to Canada to face 54 charges, including murder and kidnapping.

According to a release from the Police Service, the extradition order was given on Tuesday by Chief Magistrate Marcia Caesar-Ayers, presiding in the Port of Spain Eighth Magistrates’ Court.

Septimus Neverson, also known as Christopher David Munroe, Richard Murphy and Septimus Samuel, is wanted in Canada to answer the charges of one count of murder; three counts of attempted murder; four counts of kidnapping; six counts of attempted robbery; 13 counts of breaking and entering a dwelling house for unlawful purposes; and 27 counts of robbery.

Neverson was remanded in custody without bail and advised of his rights to appeal the order within 15 days

 

TIVOLI ENQUIRY: ‘When you hear the bullets you know you are alive’ – senior cop

Crime-1[Jamaica Observer] – A senior police officer today testified in the Tivoli Enquiry that his men came under intense gunfire while heading towards Tivoli Gardens along Marcus Garvey ‎Drive in May 2010.

Superintendent Warren Turner testified that gunshots came from an abandoned building nearby the Marine Police Headquarters.

He said from the sound of things it could have been up to 50 men firing with rifles and bullets kept flying over the heads of his men.

“When you hear that sound,” Turner said of the passing bullets, “you know ‎you are alive”.

Turner who is on pre-retirement leave said he and his men were unable to return the fire because all they could see were muzzle flashes coming from the building.

He said he instructed personnel from the Marine ‎Police to give cover fire which they did, firing in the abandoned building which caused the hostile fire to cease.

‎The men stayed at the Marine Police Headquarters until Major Kennedy of the JDF, informed him it was safe to enter Tivoli Gardens, he said.

He said he entered the community at 8:20 pm. ‎

 

 

 

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