Caribbean News Round-up

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Hungry hippos move into Colombia town

_86947310_94655851[BBC] – Biologists in Colombia say a drought has forced two hippopotamuses into a town in search of food.

The animals are descendants of a group imported in the 1980s by the notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar for his private zoo near the town of Puerto Triunfo in Antioquia province.

They’ve been seen grazing in fields with cattle and wandering through the town near the city of Medellin.

Local children have been warned to keep away from the animals.

The biologists say they are waiting for specialist dart guns to sedate the hippos so they can move them.

Over the years the population of hippos at the Escobar ranch, Hacienda Napoles, has increased and some have escaped.

Escobar smuggled in elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals for his zoo. Among them were four hippos – three females and one male.

When the ranch was confiscated in the early 1990s, most of the animals were dispersed to zoos around the country but the hippos stayed in their lakes and have multiplied to more than 60.

Correspondents say they have thrived in the tropical Colombian climate, its waterways and rich vegetation.

There have been sightings of them far from the Escobar estate, which has fallen into disrepair since the drugs lord was killed in a shootout in 1993.

There have been years of debate about what to do with the hippos and discussions about whether they should be culled.

But many Colombians like them and there have even been cases of calves being taken home as pets.

 

16 dead in Guatemala prison fight

_86950609_9cca6f3d-9b35-4016-8a09-80e73d66cc0b[BBC] – Guatemalan prison officials say the number of people killed in a fight between inmates has risen to 16.

Police have not yet been able to retake control of the prison in the town of Escuintla, about 60km (37 miles) south of the capital, Guatemala City.

Officials said they would wait for reinforcements before entering the jail as the security forces were currently outnumbered four-to-one by the rioters.

The jail is notorious for overcrowding and violence.

More than 3,000 prisoners are held at the jail, which was built to house just 600.

About 2,300 inmates are currently engaged in a stand-off with 500 members of the security forces, Deputy Interior Minister Elmer Sosa said.

The minister confirmed that some of the inmates had guns.

Mr Sosa said that there were conflicting theories as to what had triggered the violence.

He said there were reports that convicted gang members had clashed with inmates without any gang affiliation after visiting hours on Sunday.

Local media are reporting that the inmates may be holding a number of visitors hostage.

But Mr Sosa said another possibility was that inmates had turned violent after guards had foiled an attempted prison break.

Earlier this year, guards scuppered another escape attempt when they discovered a tunnel underneath the prison.

The exact number of people injured in Sunday’s fight is not yet known, emergency workers at the scene said.

Members of violent street gangs make up the bulk of Guatemala’s prison population and deadly gang warfare inside prison walls is not uncommon.

Severe overcrowding makes it hard for guards to control the prisoners – who are often heavily armed with home-made weapons as well as firearms smuggled into the jail.

 

 

Acting Corporal arrested for throwing man through window

arrest[TT Newsday] – A TASK force officer with more than ten years service was arrested while on active duty at the Central Division Task Force Office early yesterday by officers of the Professional Standard Bureau, (PSB) led by ACP Comissioner of Police Harikrishen Baldeo.

The arrest brings to 41 the number of officers charged for the year by officers of the PSB. Those arrested include officers from the rank of Constable to Inspectors.

The officer, who resides in Malabar, Arima was handcuffed while in his task force uniform in full glare of his colleagues and other officers at the Chaguanas Police Station shortly after 8 am yesterday. According to reports the officer was out on patrol with his colleagues when he received instructions to report to base immediately.

When the officer arrived at the station of the Task Force office located at the eastern end of the station he was led by ACP Baldeo, ASP Chandool, Sgt Seepersad and others from the PSB. The officer was told that there had been an investigation with respect to an altercation with himself and another man on September 30 this year.

The 51- year-old officer was told that the investigation was completed and he was handcuffed and taken to an unmarked police vehicle belonging to the PSB and escorted to the Belmont Police Station.

The acting corporal was placed in a cell at the station while still in his police uniform. His cell phone and police identification card as well as his firearm were seized.

Newsday understands that relatives of the officer were contacted and informed of his arrest and were asked to bring a change of clothing and food and medication for him.

It is alleged that on September 30 the acting corporal was moonlighting as a bouncer at a bar in the Freeport area when he accosted a man who reportedly was using obscene language and making threats.

An altercation reportedly broke out between the officer and the man who was reportedly thrown through a glass door. The man suffered injuries but was later charged by the acting corporal for a series of offences. However the man went to the office of the PSB and lodged a report with officers there.

This resulted in a thorough investigation being ordered and several statements recorded from the man who lodged the report, patrons of the bar where the altercation took place, as well as the bar owner, and other eyewitnesses. This culminated with the arrest of the acting corporal who yesterday wept while in the cell of the Belmont Police Station claiming that as far as he was aware, he did nothing wrong.

Last weekend two other officers from the Central Division were also arrested by officers of the PSB for allegedly accepting $15,000 bribe.

One of the officers, an inspector of police, was also placed in the same cell at the Belmont Police Station and was later charged with misbehaving in public office. He is currently out on $200,000 bail and has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of his matter.

The constable was also charged with the same offence and is out on $100,000 bail. Forty-one officers have been charged by the PSB for the year so far.

 

Appeal Court rules in favour of UNC

kamla-1[TT Guardian] – The Appeal Court in a majority ruling has paved the way for the United National Congress (UNC) six election petitions — challenging the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) decision to extend the voting time by one hour in Trinidad for the September 7 general election — to go full speed ahead.

The ruling means that the UNC will now have to provide cogent and credible evidence before a High Court judge to show that it was significantly disadvantaged and the EBC decision affected the results.

The PNM assumed office with 23 seats while the UNC retained 18.

Chief Justice Ivor Archie voted against the grant of leave while his colleagues, Allan Mendonca and Peter Jamadar, ruled in favour of the UNC. Both the EBC and the People’s National Movement (PNM) had challenged the decision of High Court judge Mira Dean-Armorer to approve the election petitions.

The UNC filed the election petitions for six constituencies—La Horquetta/Talparo, Toco/Sangre Grande, Tunapuna, St Joseph, Moruga/Tableland and San Fernando West within a week of its loss in the general election.

In its petitions, the party is claiming that the EBC acted illegally when it took the decision to extend the polls to 7 pm because of bad weather and traffic. The UNC also argued that the late notice was not properly communicated to voters.

The EBC denied any wrongdoing and is contending that it acted within its remit.

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