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Sport Minister Anil Roberts says the Life Sport
programme was necessary for the safety and
security of citizens.
He made the comment yesterday as he spoke
about the now controversial programme established
by his ministry in 2012 to assist less fortunate
young, black males.
He was speaking in debate on a private motion
brought by Opposition MP Colm Imbert, which
called on the House of Representatives to censure
Roberts for "facilitating, through Life Sport, the
funding of criminals and criminal enterprise."
The programme is currently being audited by
the Finance Ministry after several allegations,
including that it was funding criminals.
The Deputy Director of Physical Education in
the Ministry of Sport, Ruth Marchan, and others
in the ministry have reported that death threats
were made against them after alleged financial
improprieties in the programme were made public.
One of those named as being marked for death,
Curtis "Tallman" Gibson, described as Marchan s
bodyguard, was shot dead by a gunman who
entered his Malabar, Arima home early Thursday.
But Roberts said yesterday that Gibson, a PTSC
employee, was never employed by or connected
to Life Sport in any way whatsoever. He said Life
Sport was intended to assist in the fight against
crime by giving youths an option.
"Before Life Sport they were on the street rob-
bing, shooting, hurting citizens, and since coming
into the programme many of them have started
to live positive meaningful lives," he told legislators,
adding, "Life Sport is a necessary initiative to
ensure safety and security for our citizens."
Roberts said he had been silent on the matter
over the past several weeks to allow the audit by
the Finance and Economy Ministry to be com-
pleted. He welcomed the audit as a positive devel-
opment intended to make the programme a better
Legislators, Roberts said, should await the com-
pletion of the audit before condemning the pro-
gramme, saying it was established partly after a
recommendation by Prof Selwyn Ryan, in a report
to Cabinet, for sport to be used to assist less for-
tunate young black males.
He also dismissed a claim by Imbert that there
were ghosts in the programme, adding another
claim about there being a super co-ordinator of
the programme would be determined when the
audit was complete.
Roberts also responded to concerns raised by
Imbert based on a report of the Auditor General
about a funeral costing the minister an estimated
$180,000. He said the sum was not for a gangster
but for the funeral of David Cumberbatch, a mem-
ber of the Coast Guard who had accompanied
national teams in every sport as a massage therapist
for 20 years.
Roberts also said permanent secretary in the
ministry, Ashwin Creed, who is on leave until next
week, was out of the country on family business.
There have been claims Creed left the country
because he feared for his life. RL
Wait for end of
Chaguanas West MP Jack
Warner gesticulates after
failing to get the Speaker's
attention during the
debate on the Life Sport
Programme at yesterday's
sitting of Parliament.
PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
"I may be next!"
That is what Life Sport exec-
utive Ruth Marchan told
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warn-
er shortly after 5 am yesterday,
in the wake of Thursday s killing
of Curtis "Tallman" Gibson,"
who was reportedly connected
to the Life Sport programme.
Speaking after yesterday s
Parliament sitting, Warner told
the T&T Guardian that a fearful
Marchan initially visited him last
Sunday in the company of Gib-
son to deliver evidence she had
on corruption in the programme,
because she did not know who
she could trust.
"Last Sunday Ruth Marchan
came in my home with her lap-
top and Tallman , and she left
it (laptop) with me with tears in
her eyes and told me, They out
to kill Tallman and me and she
ask me to strip her laptop in the
event that she is killed," Warner
Warner said Marchan initially
visited him on Sunday to deliver
the laptop, then came again on
Monday and Tuesday. He said
he "stripped" her lap top as
requested and gave it back to
her during one of those visits.
"In three days last week she
came to me five times begging
me for help," Warner said.
Yesterday, however, Warner
said Marchan called him even
more fearful for her life, after
learning of the details of how
Gibson, one of two other Life
Sport officials she said was
marked for death by the criminal
element within the programme,
Warner said she confirmed to
him that Gibson was employed
in the Life Sport programme.
Sport Minister Anil Roberts
had yesterday told Parliament
that Gibson was in no way
employed or connected to the
Life Sport programme. A release
from the programme also said
Realising Marchan s state of
fear, Warner said during her visit
he called the head of the Nation-
al Operations Centre (NOC),
Garvin Heera. He said he advised
Marchan "to go to him (Heera)
and talk to him and see what he
can do for you." He said he sug-
gested that she should seek pro-
tection in a safe house, adding
that all that had transpired was
the result of the Life Sport pro-
gramme. He said he also advised
her to go to a daily newspaper
and give her story.
No one had been arrested in
connection with the killing up
'I may be next'
Fearful Marchan leaves laptop with Jack
Warner, who was denied an
opportunity to contribute to
yesterday's debate on a private
motion on the Life Sport
programme, said he wanted to
speak on the matter because of
the information he had.
But as he rose to speak,
Leader of Government
Business, Dr Roodal Moonilal,
rose and moved that the House
be adjourned to Friday at 10
am.Warner noted that yesterday
was Private Member's Day and
it was the third time in as many
months that he was prevented
from speaking in the
Parliament. He noted that the
motion to adjourn was made
before 4 pm, adding he got
permission from zChief Whip to
speak on a day when private
business was being debated.
"Why did Moonilal muzzle
me again this afternoon? But
let them go ahead. Half of the
things Anil said were inaccurate
and therefore I wanted to
speak in the House."
Warner said he wanted to
remind Roberts that he told
him about criminal activities in
Carapo. He said he also told the
authorities in the Defence Fore
of the need to put an army
camp in Carapo, adding Imbert's
motion was about criminal
activity in Carapo.
The former national security
minister said the Life Sport
initiative was not reducing
crime in Carapo but was the
cause of an increase. The value
of programme was also being
outweighed by the level of
money being spent on it and
the corruption within it, he said.
ROODAL MUZZLED ME IN HOUSE
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