Sunday, April 21, 2024

Rowley says court decision “disturbing”

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Port of Spain, Trinidad – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley described as “disturbing” the circumstances surrounding the High Court’s decision to compensate nine men, who were acquitted of the 2016 murder of a businesswoman, TT$2.1 million each.

On Monday, High Court Master Martha Alexander, awarded the men a total of TT$19 168 917.56 for malicious prosecution and exemplary damages; costs amounting to $200 917.56; and the cost of an expert witness of $68 000.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rowley said: “As you know, the Cabinet has no role whatsoever in proceedings in the court, but we all follow it as it goes along and elements of it made public.

“I am in the same position that you are in. I’ve seen the news. It is very disturbing and as a result of that, I, too, I’m waiting to hear what the Office of the Attorney General has to say tomorrow (Thursday), but clearly, this is an unsatisfactory situation and I am waiting to hear what the facts are, but this is not what one expects in situations like these.”

The damages awarded to the nine men also have interest attached, at a rate of 2.5 per cent, from May 29, 2020, to January 30 this year.

The nine men – Shervon Peters, Devon Peters, Anthony Gloster, Joel Fraser, Ronald Armstrong, Keida Garcia, Jameel Garcia, Marlon Trimmingham and Antonio Charles – were among 10 persons who had gone on trial in 2016 for the murder of Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.

The 52-year-old former chief executive of the supermarket chain, Naipaul’s Xtra Foods, was kidnapped from the driveway of her residence in Lange Park, Chaguanas in west central Trinidad, on the night of December 19, 2016. Her body was never found.  Her kidnappers had demanded a $3 million ransom for her release.

The nine men had filed a malicious prosecution claim in May 2020 which the State did not defend, despite having entered an appearance. (CMC)

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