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TCI: Judge rules there is ‘a case’; all nine defendants will go to trial in September

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Myrtle Rigby Health Complex, home to SIPT, Supreme Court Annex

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – July 29, 2019 – It will be every man and woman for themselves now as the nine defendants in the high profile, high stakes corruption trial of a former PNP Government administration will have to clear their own names, individually.  The judge in the matter today announced there is indeed a case to answer.

The anticipated verdict on a no-case submission was delivered as rejected by Justice, Hon Paul Harrison who determined there is sufficient evidence to continue the trial where Harrison is uniquely both the judge and the jury. 

FILE – Hon Paul Harrison, Judge in SIPT

The verdict of a continuation of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Trial, (SIPT) as was the no-case submission, was not shocking to the public. 

The accused are using and exhausting every avenue in an effort to defend their not guilty stances.  The prosecution and the judge continue to demonstrate the firm view that this trial is warranted and is expected to run for another two years.   

Even though the ‘no case submission’ was filed in unison by the nine people accused of malfeasance, going forward, each defendant will have to try to disprove the evidence presented by the Prosecution on an individual basis.

The Prosecution wrapped up its case almost a year ago, in September 2018.

It will likely mean new witnesses will be called in the effort to discredit prosecution witness testimony and it is far less likely that defence attorneys will progress directly to summations.

There have been over 200 witnesses in the trial, which started in earnest in January 2016 against Michael Misick, former Premier; husband and wife: Floyd and Lisa Hall, Mr. Hall is former Deputy Premier; Jefferey Hall, former Works and Housing minister; McAllister Hanchell, former Lands minister; Melbourne Wilson, attorney-at-law; Lilian Boyce, former Education and Health minister; Clayton Greene, cousin of Floyd Hall and attorney-at-law and Chal Misick, brother of Michael Misick and attorney-at-law.

FILE – Michael Misick, former premier expected to give testimony in SIPT in September 2019

Meanwhile, the SIPT has lost wide public support as the cost of the near ten-year old investigation and trial has mounted to some $100 million tax-payer dollars.

The trial is adjourned until September 9, 2019 when Michael Misick is said to be among those expected to take the stand.

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TCHTA Expresses Sympathy to Bereaved Families and Grave Concern Over Recent Gun Crimes

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#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2022 – Communities in the country have come under siege in the wake of a recent explosion of gun violence resulting in several tragic deaths. The TCHTA bemoans these events, sending sympathy and encouragement to the families of the young men whose lives have been cut short by these brazen and deplorable attacks.

 “We grieve the loss of these young lives and the devastation caused to the families involved,” lamented Stay Cox, CEO of the organization. “We’ve seen this before, and each time our communities and nation are pushed into a position of fear and panic as criminals eat away at the feeling of safety in our homes and neighbourhoods,” said Cox.

 Earlier this year, the Association appealed for swift action to be taken against the uptick in brazen criminal activity and pledged its continued support and eagerness to partner with the RTCIPF in the fight against crime in Turks and Caicos.

 The Association notes the swift action taken by the RTCIPF, the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Premier, and the NSC to stem the ongoing melee. The TCHTA joins the country in thanking the Cayman Islands for deploying one of its two police helicopters from the RCIPS Air Operations Unit to provide aerial assistance. Still, the killings continue driven by what the RTCIPF has said is perpetrated by groups involved in “gangs and serious organized crime.”.

 CEO Cox said, “The recent update from the NSC sharing plans for a targeted RTCIPF Gun, Gangs, and Drugs Unit is promising and something we hope the Police will move toward aggressively. This problem is immediate and time-critical as criminals wreak havoc in these large communities, home to law-abiding citizens who cannot live as freely as they should.”

 To date, the country’s murder count is staggering and utterly disproportionate to the size of the population. The Association says heinous occurrences like these are the nucleus of a cycle where communities are affected, day-to-day life is compromised, the country’s reputation is eventually damaged, and citizens are affected once again by economic loss when the country’s lifeline takes a hit.

 President of the TCHTA, Trevor Musgrove, is reinforcing the organization’s commitment to assist where possible, appealing to all to get involved in the fight against crime. “Residents cannot be forced to accept this level of senseless violence in our country. We cannot stand for it, and we cannot turn a blind eye to it. We must take power away from these vagrants and do what it takes to save our young men.” said Musgrove.

The TCHTA President shared the Association’s thanks and support to the officers of the RTCIPF. “We know it is no small task, and we continue to send our appreciation to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force officers for their commitment and bravery. We know you are under attack, and we pray for your safety as you stand on the front line to protect the residents of this country.”

The TCHTA commends the members of the community who have provided information and assistance to the authorities as they work to infiltrate the groups at the core of this recent killing spree. The Association joins the RTCIPF in its appeal to the public for those in possession of unlicensed firearms to surrender them during the Gun Amnesty which begins on September 15th.

Musgrove said, “The fact is that we are losing a generation to gangs and guns, and a holistic approach is imperative. Our citizens and residents are being terrorized by those who have no value for human life and no respect for law and order. Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering from the fallout of these tragedies, and the TCHTA remains committed to our continued partnership with the authorities.”

 The TCHTA sends its prayers to the families of the murder victims and hopes that justice will be served in these matters.

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Response to Premier’s National Address 26.09.22

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#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2022 – As I address you today, and after listening to, and watching the Hon. Premier’s National Address, I am feeling no safer or more assured than I was earlier this week. My heart is aching to see what is taking place in our beloved country, and it bleeds for the many men, and woman, we have lost as a nation. Many of whom were productive and contributed to the development of our nation. The attack on our men is condemned in the highest order and must be addressed with the fierce urgency of now.

The hon. Premier gave a good reading presentation of things to come, but we need action like yesterday. While good, the country and our people can not wait three months for reinforcements to come, or for laws to be amended in the House of Assembly. The “Bad Guys” are not going on vacation until December, or until the reinforcements reach. They are out every day looking to gun down their targets.

We needed solutions for tonight, and the immediate days to come. We cannot risk more of our people dying. We the public do not need the tactical details, bet we need to be assured that new forms of actions and new strategies are being executed immediately.

Regarding those who are responsible for law and order:

The buck stops with H.E the Governor, who is given this responsibility under our failing constitution, the Hon. Premier, and the Commissioner of Police. We sat, heard, and watched H. E the Governor, and the Hon. Premier go to bat to defend and save the Commissioner of Police and continue to throw in the people’s faces, that the Commissioner of Police has their full confidence.

We have also heard recently that same tune being adopted by the other elected leader of our country who seems to forget that their 14 Members of Parliament team were elected to stand up for the people of this country, regardless that standing up includes calling out to the Governor and the Commissioner of Police when the public is of the opinion that they are not performing well in their constitutional capacity.

This is not a personal attack on any of the gentlemen (Governor, Premier, Commissioner) it is an attack on their performance. I am merely representing the views of many of our citizens throughout the TCI. All one has to do is talk to random people, and 3 out of every 4 would state the same.

With the constant public sentiments being expressed by the Governor and the Premier about their utmost confidence in the commissioner of Police, it is no wonder why COP Botting can tell the people of our country, that firing him will not stop the crime, and will not change anything. I was very much taken aback by hearing this. The arrogance of this statement almost seems as if he is insinuating that there is no new nor better idea, strategy, method, or leadership style that any other Commissioner could bring to the job.

Evidence would show that from the time representation was made to the British Government to dismiss our last local Commissioner Edward Hall under the pretense of retirement, our country has been going on a downward spiral under foreign Police Commissioners at the helm. This is a clear indication that the foreign Commissioner is not the answer to our problems.

If the heads are not producing results, then remove the head and start fresh. That is how it is in my world, if one does not perform you, the people will remove you- democracy at its best. I will continue to voice the people’s displease with the performance of the Governor, Premier, and Commissioner of Police when it comes to fighting crime.

Before tonight, ears have not heard nor eyes have not seen any action from the country’s PNP Government, save and except a few mealy mouth press releases that are devoid of any immediate solutions. Where are the elected members for these “hotspot” constituencies?

It has also been brought to my attention that there have been PNP MPs postings, in a very juvenile manner, as if they are playing the game of jeopardy asking Alex silly questions about what is lockdown and 500 soldiers. The crime wave is serious business and must be approached with the seriousness it demands.

As Opposition Leader, my team and I don’t play this kind of silly childing games with the lives of the People of our country, and neither do we recommend these kinds of games being played with the livelihood of our people-

To slam our country in lockdown or a state of emergency will signal to the outer world that they should not come to TCI and spend their Tourism dollars with us this season. This is a harmful suggestion that does not mirror a realistic solution to address the crime. This would further hurt already hurting families who are struggling with the current cost of living.

A PDM government, under my leadership, would respond as follows (and is recommended):

  1. Immediate stationing of Police Tactical Teams with contracted assistance in the hot spot areas of Providenciales.
  2. Conduct immediate tactical and covert operations in hot spot areas (not to be specified here)- which should have happened directly after the first homicide.
  3. Dispense with the Helicopter which has only acted as an alarm to notify the criminals of areas of operations, incorporate more unmarked vehicles in operations, and have police presence regularly in our communities, protecting our citizens.
  4. Implement the use of cellphone jammers for that window of time when and where tactical operations are in motion.
  5. Implement a Shot-spotter system that can provide immediate alarms and data of the exact location where gunshots were fired to the tactical team already stationed in the hotspots.
  6. Establish an internal affairs unit, and commence seizing the cell phones of police officers suspected of leaking information immediately -the general public feels that there is no confidentiality in the police force and the leaking of information has to be stamped out.
  7. Provide immediate financing to upgrade the weaponry and body armor of the RTCIPF.

Additional Long-term actions (Human Resources);

  1. Provide for an increase in Police salaries by 40% and in certain instances in line with modern police forces around the world.
  2. Mass recruit of Turks and Caicos Islanders into the force, and Implement a Fast-Track leadership program for Police Officers whereby they are exchange programs with the regional and international police forces, to gain the required knowledge, skills, and experience, and allow local TCI officers to interview for the job of Commissioner of Police.
  3. Putting in place a coastguard unit with 24-hour patrolling- for intercepting both weapons and human smuggling.

My fellow Turks and Caicos Islanders, if we can implement these 10 points immediately, I can assure you that it will decrease violent crime, and will bring TCI back to the peaceful country we all know and love.

“The Leaders in the good times must be the leaders in the bad times, the leaders of the day have to be the leaders of the night.”

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Open Letter to Governor Dakin

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Dear H.E. Governor Dakin,

The time has come for us as a nation to stand as a unified front on matters regarding our beautiful country, the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our country, as it stands, is in a state of turmoil and I am afraid that if we do not act now, all will be lost. As such, I write on behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, who are feeling neglected by this Government, the Commissioner of Police, and, regrettably, yourself.

Your Excellency, while crime prevention is a shared responsibility, it is expected that the relevant authorities and persons placed in key positions for crime prevention would have the strongest impact. However, I am sure that you are aware that the citizens have lost complete faith in our police force and continue to live in fear in what is supposed to be a peaceful and safe Turks and Caicos Islands. This only causes one to wonder, what can and should be done to regain control?

The People’s Democratic Movement has, on a number of occasions, stated our position on this crime matter, even offering a number of solutions to combat crime, for instance, the parties’ 12 point crime plan approach. The sad reality is that crime will always exist in any country, but as leaders we must ensure that the right deterrents are in place to reduce the risk.

I am no expert in the field of combating crime, but I do know that by taking the basic preventative measures, such as those that have been mentioned by my party and many citizens alike, we will see a swift reduction in crime.

Nevertheless, I call on you, Your Excellency, to stand on your role in national Security, as we all have come to the realization that the current approach isn’t working. Your Excellency, we are nearing a state of emergency. As you are responsible for national security of which crime is included, we need you to make those bold decisions, even if this means requesting the assistance of the military. I hereby also offer these measures that should be implemented in the interim:

  • Construct new Police stations in each community on the island of Providenciales, with a minimum of two patrol units stationed within those communities, with daily patrols and adequate staff.

  • Investment of 30-50 new patrol units.

  • Investment of a mobile police station that can be visible in other areas at various times throughout each day. We need more police officers on the streets, who can be accessible by our citizens.

Your Excellency, I say again, the current approach is failing. We need experts who will come to work and not use the opportunity to vacation. Let’s also invest in hiring some of the best experts who can assist with solving these crimes and bringing closure to the families who have lost love ones. The fact of the matter remains – there are too many unsolved cases in this country! The people of this beautiful country are not asking for much, we just want those in positions to do what they are being paid to do.

We cannot have our people living in fear, Your Excellency. I believe we need stricter penalties in place, such as the approach Jamaica recently took with a mandatory 15 years in person if caught with an illegal firearm. In addition, we can consider cancelling all bail applications for serious crimes offences. These are the kind of approaches that just may reduce or have one second guessing their decision before committing criminal acts.

In closing, I ask that you provide the people of Turks and Caicos with some reassurance, not in the form of words in a speech but swift and effective action. Your Excellency, please also note, that if these matters aren’t addressed prior to your departure as Governor, then you would have also failed the great people of Turks and Caicos Islands.

I thank you for your time and I do hope that this letter resonates with you and encourages change.

 

Robert Been

Deputy Leader

People’s Democratic Movement

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