You are here
Expecting clean wine from a dirty bottle
Exactly 16 years ago last Sunday, a young man succumbed to injuries that he had sustained after being hit on the head, and died at the San Fernando General Hospital. The crux of the State’s manslaughter case seemed straightforward enough: The defendant, Brad Boyce–scion of a wealthy bourgeois family from west Trinidad–struck the victim, Jason Johnson, a blow to the head which ultimately killed him. What followed was anything but.
After reviewing the case, the Privy Council found that the trial judge made two very questionable decisions. Firstly, he personally challenged the evidence of state pathologist Hughvon des Vignes, who had concluded that it was the blow to the head which killed the victim. Furthermore, in an unprecedented move, it was the trial judge himself who had decided to call an independent witness to debunk des Vignes’ qualifications.
The judge subsequently ruled that des Vignes, who had hitherto conducted around 270 autopsies, was somehow not suitably qualified to give a cause of death in this particular matter. After he directed the jury to return a “not guilty” verdict, Brad Boyce walked free from court and away into the sunset.
In any self-respecting society, this judge’s impartiality would forever be called into question. But self-respecting we most certainly are not. So today, Herbert Volney now sits in Parliament as the Right Honourable Minister of Justice. Well, until very recently in any case.
Some may argue that it was by mere coincidence alone that the former minister again found himself embroiled in a controversy whereby the scales of justice had apparently been tipped in favour of certain individuals in society. Call me a cynic, but I was always inclined to believe that there was something more in the mortar than the pestle. The old people will tell you that once a dog starts to suck eggs, it will never stop. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar must have thought as much, and, late on Thursday, decided to relieve Volney of his ministerial responsibilities.
The damage to the PP’s dwindling credibility by this self-made imbroglio has been immense. In firing Volney, the Government is hoping that a line can now be drawn under the matter. That may well pacify the baying mob, but the question surely remains just how it was that a government front bench which contains more silk than Yufe’s, allowed itself to be duped in such a manner?
All that being said, we should not be taken in by the Opposition and its attempts to march around the walls of Jericho with this either. Federal charges were filed in Miami against Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson way back in 2005, when the PNM was still very much at the helm.
Unsure how to handle that particular hot potato, Manning and his administration threw it into the bush when they thought that no one was looking. It is extremely disingenuous of members of that party now, to lay all the blame on the current Government for refusing to pick it up.
Keith Rowley has also voiced an intention to write to the governments of several leading nations, as well as CARICOM, the United Nations, and the Organisation of American States, to inform them that our current administration has used parliamentary privilege to facilitate criminal conduct. I beg you, Dr Rowley, please do not waste your time, fine paper and good ink on so futile an exercise.
This is the country that gave birth to the John O’Halloran scandal, the Scott Drug Report, and the Calder Hart shenanigans. We are a nation whose former prime minister was found to have an undeclared bank account in London, and one where a man with several question marks hanging over the integrity of his character, is still given high political office.
This is the place where a large amount of drugs can be found in a container on the docks, yet the consignee never questioned by the police. Our international notoriety as a place of ill-repute has long since preceded us. What can you really tell the world that they do not already know?
Interestingly enough, the Congress of the People has also been shown for what it truly is: the third piece in a morally bankrupt political trinity. Although it has since issued a terse statement saying sorry to the nation at large, and calling for the “termination of all who acted with intentional dishonesty in relation to the contempt of Parliament,” it needs to be reminded that actions do indeed speak louder than words.
For it was members of this same party who only last week or so, voted overwhelmingly by 91-6 to defeat a motion calling for Jack Warner’s removal from the Cabinet. Considering the legion of allegations against him, it would appear that in the COP’s reckoning some accusations of corruption are apparently more tolerable than others. More fool us for thinking otherwise. As the saying goes, Simpaul’s luck really isn’t Gopaul’s luck after all–or something along those lines anyway.
I once watched a documentary which focused on the Jamaican Constabulary Force in the wake of several extrajudicial killings by police officers on that island. When questioned by the television interviewer as to what lay at the heart of the seemingly pervasive corruption coursing through his ranks, Supt Reneto Adams was unequivocal in his reply. “How can you expect to get clean wine from a dirty bottle?” It is a question that we too will do well to ponder.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.