Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 22nd 2014 Contents A12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A 26-year-old man of Siparia
was acquitted yesterday on two
charges of trafficking and cultiva-
tion of marijuana.
A nine-member jury took less
than half-an-hour to decide on the
verdict of Cudjoe Antoine, 26, of
High Street, Siparia, who had
claimed he was framed by police
because of his Rastafarian hairstyle.
According to the evidence,
Antoine, a follower of the Bobo
Shanti faith, was arrested at a house
at Wharf Trace, Maracas/St Joseph,
on October 5, 2007.
Several police officers testified
they had Antoine under surveillance
for some time and saw him tending
to marijuana plants at the location
before he was eventually arrested.
They claimed when they arrived
on the scene around 2 am they
found several plants and seedlings
planted around the house as well as
13.5 kilos of cured marijuana, which
was hidden inside.
Before the plants were destroyed
and the drugs seized, Antoine
reportedly told police: "Boss, I am
a prophet and these are my bless-
Although prosecutors claimed the
illegal items were photographed by
police photographer WPC Balewa
in Antoine s presence, when she tes-
tified in court she admitted that the
first time she saw him was during
the preliminary inquiry in the Tuna-
puna Magistrate s Court.
Antoine gave evidence in his
defence and admitted to the court
he smoked marijuana but stated he
had never been arrested in the past.
He said he did not live in the
house and was only brought there
when he was arrested by police, who
saw him walking nearby during their
The case was heard before Justice
Carla Browne-Antoine in the Port-
of-Spain High Court.
Antoine was represented by
Criston J Williams while Mauricia
Otaheite Fisherfolk Association
yesterday called on Petrotrin to
resume compensation to fisher-
men as fish had become scarce
since the company s use of the
Corexit 9500 dispersant, in their
December 2013 disaster clean-up.
Spokesman for the association,
Raffick Khan, said fishermen were
still finding oil in the sea and the
mangroves lining Aripero and Dow
"They said that they cleaned up
the oil and that it was good and
safe to go back to work, but it is
not so. We are seeing oil coming
up and the mangroves are still the
same way. They told us to go back
out to sea on April 8, but when
we went, it was only oil that we
were getting steadily and very little
fish and shrimps.
"Look at all the boats parked up
here and today is Monday. This is
the time of the year that we usually
benefit from the Aripero and Dow
mangroves where we would get
fish, shrimp and crab. When rain
falls, everything backs into the
mangroves and we would go on
the outside and catch it.
"This is not happening now,
nothing is coming in. Anything
that goes in there to lay, will lay
will die. We will be faced with this
problem for many years to come
until they do something about it."
He claims that while they have
to scour the barren sea, La Brea
fishermen were still being com-
Khan said Petrotrin s seismic
surveys were another problem and
were responsible for the washing
up of dead dolphins, bouchets and
atlanticas on the beaches. He said
in his 50 years as a fisherman, he
had never seen those types of fish
Earlier this year, thousands of
fish carcasses washed ashore in La
Brea, creating a stench and an eye-
sore in the coastal communities.
Petrotrin said those carcasses were
mullets and that independent tests
showed no poisoning.
However, Khan said, "They
mentioned mullets, but it isn t
mullet alone that is coming up."
For those selling in the market,
the lack of catch by fishermen
meant they had little to sell. A big-
ger problem for vendors was that
people were afraid to purchase
their stock, fearing that it may be
poisonous. Instead of selling, the
vendors were hanging their fish to
dry for the salting and corning
"People believe there is chemical
in the fish. We have to corn the
fish before they spoil because peo-
ple are not buying," Avinash Battoo
Fishing to support his family
since he was 16 years old, he said
he now has no money to purchase
books and uniforms for his five
"When Petrotrin stopped the
fishermen from going to the sea,
we had no fish to sell and it was
only the boat owners that were
paid. Vendors got nothing. Some
of the boatmen got $1,200 per day
and because they felt sorry for us,
they gave us some money to buy
Nicholas Neemah, a vendor
since age 12, said vendors would
make about $600 to $700 daily,
but that has been reduced to $100.
Man freed of two ganja charges
Aftermath of December oilspills
Fisherfolk plea for more
In a statement yesterday, Petrotrin said
Government has appointed a task force to
determined what efforts are needed to mitigate
the effects of the oil spill.
The company said it had paid out $22 million in
ex-gratia sums to affected fisherfolk groups and
associations up to the first week in May 2014.
"Since then, the final payment to fisherfolk in
La Brea representing outstanding money owed,
was made on July 19, representing full and final
compensation in accordance with the said
"The Cabinet-appointed National
Environmental Assessment Task Force was
established to oversee all activities necessary to
address the environmental impact of the
December oil spills and provide guidance to the
EMA as the lead agency in the clean-up efforts
of the mangrove.
"Petrotrin remains guided by the
recommendations of this Committee. Petrotrin
takes its corporate social responsibility seriously
and assures the national community that we will
continue to operate in the best interest of all."
Fishermen at the Otaheite Fishing market hoping for a good day's sale yesterday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
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