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Prosecutors in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman
murder trial were prevented yesterday from ten-
dering a shovel and garden fork, found at the Diego
Martin home of several of the 12 accused, into evi-
The attempt to tender the implements was made
during the testimony of the State s latest witness
PC Stanley Romeo and was met with objection from
defence attorneys who questioned their relevance.
"It must be relevant to the murder of Naipaul-
Coolman," said Mario Merritt, who is representing
three of the accused.
Special prosecutor Gilbert Peterson said although
forensic tests on both tools yielded negative results,
the items could still be considered circumstantial
"The prosecution has a responsibility to not only
lead incriminating evidence but also those gathered
in the course of the investigation," Peterson said.
Presiding judge Malcom Holdip disagreed with
Peterson and upheld the objection.
In his opening address in the case, lead prosecutor
Israel Khan, SC, said it was the State s case that
Naipaul-Coolman was being held captive at a house
in Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, for more than a
week before she was shot dead, dismembered and
buried in a forested area.
The Xtra Foods chief executive was abducted from
her home at Radix Road, Lange Park, Chaguanas,
on December 19, 2006.
The defence attorneys were not as lucky in their
attempt to block Peterson from tendering a silver
chain and pendant, found by Romeo and his col-
leagues during a search of the house in May 2007.
That search, which led to the arrests of most of
the men on trial, took place almost five months after
police initially raided the area in search of the Naipaul-
Peterson said the jewelry, which included the word
"NINJA", would be used to resolve an issue with an
alias assigned to one of the accused. Holdip agreed.
In his testimony, Romeo, a homicide detective,
told the jury and five alternates that while searching
the house, police seized 11 cellphones, jewelry, a small
quantity of cash and the tools.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
$5.5b Invaders Bay project...
for 14th JULY, 2014
A construction lobby group has won the
right to see legal advice given to the Plan-
ning Ministry on the award of a $5.5 billon
contract to develop public property in
Invaders Bay, Port-of-Spain.
In a 28-page judgment, in favour of the
Joint Consultative Council for the Con-
struction Industry (JCC), High Court judge
Frank Seepersad ruled that the Planning
Ministry s refusal to disclose the documents
was illegal, null, void and of no effect.
Seepersad said the failure of government
agencies to disclose documents related to
procurement in multi-million-dollar con-
struction projects might create a "perception
of misfeasance in the process" and a cor-
responding loss in public confidence.
He said: "The public interest in having
access to the requested information there
is far more substantial than the defendant s
(the ministry s) interest in attempting to
maintain any perceived confidentiality in
relation to the said information."
The JCC filed the lawsuit early last year,
after the ministry s permanent secretary
refused its request under the Freedom of
Information Act, which gives members of
the public the right to access official doc-
uments of public authorities.
The JCC, through its president Afra Ray-
mond, began asking for information on the
project in November 2011 after the minister,
Dr Bhoe Tewarie, initiated a request for pro-
posals, bypassing the Central Tenders Board.
The ministry told the JCC it had sought
legal advice from the office of the Attorney
General and had been told the Tenders
Board was not required in the tendering
The JCC then wrote to Tewarie asking
for the documents relating to the legal
advice under the freedom of information
After several delays, the JCC threatened
legal action, prompting the permanent sec-
retary of the ministry to respond, refusing
the request on the ground that the infor-
mation was exempted under the legislation,
as it fell within legal professional privilege
and its disclosure would be contrary to the
But Seepersad said the ministry failed to
prove its public-interest concerns.
He said even if it had been able to do so,
it was still required to do a public-inter-
est-override assessment to determine if the
need to disclose the documents outweighed
"It must always be in the public interest
to ensure that the activities and projects
undertaken by Government are transparent
and all attempts should be made so as to
dispel any perception of the misappropri-
ation of public funds and financial impro-
priety," Seepersad said.
He also agreed with the JCC s submission
that Tewarie had waived the ministry s
legal-privilege rights when he spoke on the
issue while answering questions in the Sen-
ate in February 2012.
"Having clearly communicated this posi-
tion in the nation s Parliament, the position
that the documents containing the said
advice can still be subject to legal profes-
sional privilege, and that no reliance can
be attached to the said statement because
it is covered by parliamentary privilege, is
untenable," Seepersad said.
The JCC was represented by Kingsley
Walesby. Russell Martineau, SC. Shiv Shar-
ma and Deowattee Dilraj-Batoosingh
appeared for the minister.
Miss T&T 2012,
the mas band
Court rules in JCC's favour
PASSION LAUNCH Fork, shovel ruled
out of evidence
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