Pregnant women, children and the elderly had to scamper for safety yesterday, after two gunmen opened fire on a group of people liming along St Paul Street, Port-of-Spain, killing one man.
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Child’s mom ready to talk
The key witness in the alleged assault on businesswoman Sacha Singh by former tourism minister Chandresh Sharma is expected to talk to the police today. The T&T Guardian was reliably informed that the woman, a school teacher, was initially considering not giving a statement on the incident. But when asked yesterday if she intended to back down from giving the police a statement yesterday, after a long pause, said she would speak to chief investigator Insp Naim Gyan “tomorrow. Yes, he is meeting with me tomorrow (today).”
The woman, whose identity is being withheld to protect her in light of the public firestorm which the initial story caused, was present during the spat between Sharma and Singh on March 12 in the car park at Grand Bazaar, Valsayn. The squabble and abuse is now the subject of a police investigation.
On Monday, Sharma resigned from his ministerial post. His resignation was accepted by Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar after calls from leader of the Congress of the People Prakash Ramadhar and Fixing T&T for him to step down or be fired.
In a brief telephone interview yesterday, the 53-year-old witness said she was yet to speak to the police and intended to do so soon. Asked where she would meet Gyan, the woman said she first had to await a call from him to know those details. ASP Joanne Archie, public information officer of the T&T Police Service, last night said Gyan informed her on Monday that the witness was expected to speak with him before the end of the week.
“The police would first conduct and interview and if the person is willing to give a statement then we do so. We can’t force them to give a statement.” Archie said the victim was first to be interviewed, followed by the witness and then the suspect. She said Sharma would be the last to be interviewed by or before tomorrow.
Sharma’s resignation came one week after former minister of the people Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh was fired by Persad-Bissessar following allegations of disorderly behaviour on March 16 on board a Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago. Singh, the managing director of AMS Biotech Security Concept and AmSure T&T Ltd, who is in her late 20s, met with officers from the St Joseph Police Station on March 28 at her Piarco business, where she gave a statement of Sharma’s alleged physical abuse outside the shopping mall.
Within hours of going public, a smear campaign was launched against Singh by United National Congress (UNC) supporters who used the party’s Facebook page and personal Facebook pages posting nude and semi-nude photographs of her. Singh publicly called on Persad- Bissessar to appeal to the UNC supporters to stop the attacks, adding that her action was not intended to bring down Sharma or the Government. Police were told Singh met Sharma in the Grand Bazaar car park, near Toppers, around 7.45 pm on March 12.
Sharma had agreed to meet Singh at the mall. In the back seat of Singh’s car was a 12-yearold girl alleged to have been fathered by Sharma and her mother. Sharma entered Singh’s Mercedes Benz car and sat in the front passenger seat, where questions about the child arose. Singh began to ask Sharma about maintaining the child. Sharma and the child’s mother then came out of the vehicle arguing. Shortly after, there was a scuffle between Sharma and the child’s mother.
Singh came out of the car and held on to Sharma’s tie but was allegedly slapped across the face. Sharma, the police were told, pushed Singh, who fell back and hit her head on her car and blacked out for several minutes. After regaining consciousness, Singh said she was told Sharma helped to revive her.
Singh said Sharma advised her not to go to the hospital but instead go home and take a shower. Singh called her doctor but he told her he was not on duty at the nearby St Augustine Private Hospital. She went home and took painkillers.
Singh: I will fight my case
The following day, Singh was examined by Dr Pulchan at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope. Pulchan diagnosed that she suffered a mild concussion and haematoma (swelling of the brain) during the incident. She then reported the matter to Sgt Ogiste at the St Joseph Police Station. Traumatised by the incident, Singh left the country on March 14 and returned on March 25.
The police took a report three days later. Contacted last night, Singh said in the interest of “both parties,” referring to herself and the woman accusing Sharma of fathering her child, it was best that a statement be given to the police. Singh said the last time she spoke to the woman was on March 28. “We have not spoken since then.” But she said with or without the woman she was pressing ahead with the matter. “I am not going to back down. I will fight my case with the information and facts that I have. The truth will always prevail.”