Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 3rd 2014 Contents A5
Monday, November 3, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has
admitted to being a very close friend
of Dr Dinesh Ariyanayagam, the sur-
geon at the centre of a controversial
procedure in which 17 cocaine pellets
were allegedly removed from a
patient s stomach last year.
The surgery, which was performed
at the St Augustine Private hospital,
cost close to $100,000.
The patient was later transferred
to the Eric Williams Medical Science
Complex, Mt Hope, and placed in the
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after falling
In an interview yesterday, Khan
said despite being friends with
Ariyanayagam, whom he referred as
"Dr Ari," he has distanced himself
from any aspect of the police probe
into the matter. He also denied speak-
ing to Ariyanayagam about the mat-
ter.Ariyanayagam is a general and vas-
Khan s response have come in wake
of reports that the investigators had
complained of a senior politician
blocking certain aspects of the case.
"Everybody knows who the doctor
is. Dr Ari and I are very close
friends....who does not know that?
We have been close friends since in
medical school. So what?
"There are very few people who
hold a specialist position like myself
and there are very few people who
hold a position like him, so we consult
all the time on patient care," Khan
told the T&T Guardian in a telephone
The Health Minister said he was
even a guest at Ariyanayagam s wed-
"So out of 1.3 million people in
this country I must not know any-
body? In my field it is only obvious
I must interact with other doctors
and maintain relations with them,"
Khan, who questioned the rele-
vance of his relationship with
Ariyanayagam in relation to the case,
said such information being relayed
to the media was part of a plot to try
to taint his good character.
"There are certain people who are
trying to make something out of
nothing and the whole thing is just
"I have made it my business to stay
clear out of the investigation and
unlike other people who have been
uttering all sorts of things, I have cho-
sen to utter nothing and let the police
do their work," Khan said.
National Security Minister Gary
Griffith said yesterday the contro-
versial surgery performed on a
patient to remove 17 cocaine pellets
is a either a massive fabrication
or a massive cover-up.
He made the statement in
response to the claims last week
that the police could not charge
anyone due to a lack of evidence
The patient, 34, from Arouca,
reportedly swallowed the pellets in
a bid to smuggle the narcotic to
England, but had to fly back home
after falling sick there. Once back
in Trinidad he was rushed for treat-
ment at the St Augustine Private
hospital after experiencing stomach
Last Wednesday, acting Police
Commissioner Stephen Williams
said the matter had been investi-
gated thoroughly and the decision
against laying charges was made on
the advice of then deputy Director
of Public Prosecutions Kathy Ann
Waterman-Latchoo, who ten-
dered her resignation in September,
will be taking up a judgeship in St
Vincent and the Grenadines.
Williams said there was no evi-
dence which could be used to pursue
prosecution against surgeon or
patient at this time.
But yesterday, Griffith assured
that despite the lack of evidence
the police were working on the mat-
ter.The National Security Minister,
who had a lengthy telephone con-
versation with Williams yesterday,
said, "There is no evidence of
cocaine pellets at this time. The
medical notes say nothing about
cocaine pellets being removed, we
have no one admitting to removing
cocaine pellets and we have no wit-
nesses coming forward to say they
actually saw cocaine pellets being
removed from the patient.
"So given all this the police can-
not charge anyone based simply on
suspicion because there is no evi-
dence to do so."
He said removing "foreign
objects" from a patient s stomach
does not equate to admitting to
having illegal drugs taken out.
"If a doctor knowingly removes
cocaine pellets and then hands it
back to the patient then that is a
criminal offence and it is grounds
of aiding and abetting to a crime.
"If a doctors says he simply
removed foreign objects that is a
different case, leaving the police
with nothing to go on. So either
this is massive rumor mongering
or a massive cover-up because there
is nothing to prosecute in the first
place," Griffith added.
Khan denies trying to influence cocaine surgery case
I've stayed away from cops' probe
One source close to the investigation
said yesterday that when the pellets
were removed from the patient last
December they were placed in a plastic
bag by the doctor and then handed over
to a senior nurse and another relative
who were present at the hospital.
The nurse, who is assigned to the Mt
Hope Women's Hospital, is the patient's
But the nurse denied receiving the
pellets when questioned by the police
on the matter.
"What was removed was described
as 'foreign objects covered in faeces'
because they could not tell exactly
what it was.
"What was explained to the police is
once it is a foreign object, other than a
body part, the normal procedure is for it
to be handed back to the patient," the
The source said when the patient
was taken to the hospital he said he
had a history of "abnormal blockage"
which ran in his family.
After the surgery, the patient
reportedly asked no questions of how
he fell ill in the first instance or what
was removed from his stomach.
"Instead, he told the police he had
great trouble speaking. After the
surgery his mother also asked no
questions from the doctor and the
police found this strange as the man
had nearly died," the source said.
It is also believed this was not the
first time the man had swallowed
cocaine pellets and police also suspect
the nurse to be part of a drug ring.
PELLETS GIVEN TO NURSE
PROBE LAUNCHED AT MT HOPE
Contacted yesterday, Dr
Shehenaz Mohammed, chairman of
the North Central Regional Health
Authority (NCRHA), said the
hospital will be conducting its own
internal probe and the findings, if
necessary, will be passed on to the
relevant authorities, including the
"Initially, the man was not a
patient of Mt Hope but rather that
of a private hospital where a major
surgery was performed. It was only
when he fell gravely ill was he
transferred to Mt Hope and then
placed in ICU," Mohammed said.
"We will have to do our own
investigation and part of that
investigation would be looking at
the medical notes. Whatever action
is then meted out would be done in
accordance with the rules and
regulations of the RHA Act and that
includes the disciplinary process."
Secretary of the Medical Board Dr
Seetharaman Hariharan said
yesterday the board will meet on
Wednesday to discuss the matter
and determine the best way
He said one of the key areas to be
examined will be the conduct of the
doctor and whether he was
culpable. Hariharan said based on
what is determined this will be
forwarded to the police. But he said
the board will not discuss the
allegations surrounding the nurse,
as this is a matter for the Nursing
Council to decide.
When told of the NCRHA's internal
probe and of the meeting of the
medical board, Khan said as far was he
was aware there was only one Police
Service in the country.
"People are continuing to get this
thing wrong. The police must first do
their investigations and coming out of
that it would then determine what
action would be taken.
"So in the meantime what offence
has the nurse committed, because no
charges have been laid? How can you
probe a nurse when the police have
not charged her?
"The NCRHA does not have to
power to investigate anything of this
nature because this is a matter for the
police. It is not a medical mishap. Has
the NCRHA suddenly become an arm
of the Police Service?" Khan
He said he had no problem with the
medical board holding "whatever
meeting" it wanted, but warned there
was a process to be followed and
people had failed to understand this.
"Let the police do their work and
stop messing up the police
investigation," Khan said.
ONLY ONE POLICE SERVICE
No witnesses, valid
evidence in case---Griffith POS City Corporation worker
Asim Borneo paints the
statue of a soldier on the
cenotaph in Memorial Square,
Port-of-Spain, yesterday, in
preparation for Sunday's
Memorial Day observance.
PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
Asked if he believed the matter
will remain unsolved, Griffith said
it could only be so if a criminal act
was ascertained in the first place.
"But the police are still working
on this matter and they are
continuing to look for evidence,
but again it is difficult to go
ahead if you have nothing solid to
go on," Griffith maintained.
Also contacted yesterday,
Attorney General Anand
Ramlogan urged the police act
with a great sense of urgency in
bringing the matter to a close.
He said there were "many good
officers" and called on members
of the public to give them the
benefit of the doubt and allow
them to do their work.
AG: COPS UNDER MICROSCOPE
Links Archive November 2nd 2014 November 4th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page