“Please come back home,” a weeping Lydia Hinds, mother of 16-year-old Nicole Lezama, said yesterday as she appealed for the safe return of the teen who has been missing since Saturday.
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PM stands by Glenn for now
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday denied the latest sex allegation against Caroni Central MP Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh had influenced her decision to fire him from her Cabinet. But despite the raging public debate sparked by the allegations, she is not going to ask him to step down as an MP.
Saying she had no prior knowledge of the allegation made by Central housewife Patricia Singh Persad-Bissessar said it was the alleged incident on the Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago last month which prompted her to fire Ramadharsingh. “My decision had already been made,” Persad-Bissessar told the media during a break at the American Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s.
“My decision was made coming out of the incident involving Caribbean Airlines. “I requested the information, from reports, from Caribbean Airlines, from AATT and the minister himself, read all the reports, his responses and it was on that basis I made my decision. “By the time these (latest) allegations had arisen, I had already made my decision.” Persad-Bissessar fired Ramadharsingh on March 25 after meeting with him at her Phillipine, San Fernando, home.
This came 11 days after reports Ramadharsingh was alleged to have engaged in disorderly conduct on board a flight from Tobago on March 16. The former minister allegedly threatened CAL flight attendant Ronelle Laidlow, 25, after refusing to comply with her instructions and inappropriately touched her when he reached for her ID badge which was pinned to her blouse. In that incident, Ramadharsingh had apologised for his behaviour on board the flight but denied he touched Laidlow.
In the latest allegation, Singh claims she was forced to conduct sex acts on the former minister in order to fast track her acquisition of a house from the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Ramadharsingh has denied the allegations.
Cops question accuser
The police are currently investing the matter and the T&T Guardian understands the police questioned Singh on the matter on Monday. Several people, including her former Cabinet colleague Jack Warner and People’s National Movement (PNM) members Pennelope Beckles-Robinson and Amery Browne, have suggested the allegation was not new and that the PM had prior knowledge of the matter.
Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar admitted to receiving a text from a reporter investigating the latest claim on the same day she fired Ramadharsingh but said she had texted back asking for more details. “So on that said day the text was sent to me and I texted back asking are there any more details. I have the text. By the way it’s still on my phone. “The reporter wasn’t asking any questions but rather giving me info that there were allegations by a woman. Details in the story, those matters were not shared with me.”
Asked what she thought of the claims, the PM said: “I believe Dr Ramadharsingh has issued a statement on the matter in which he has denied the allegations. At the moment that is all I can stand on. I am not aware of a police investigation.”
MP job intact for now
She said, however, that there were no plans to ask Ramadharsingh to step down as MP or from the UNC. She said in the party he would continue “to have his day in the sun.” Persad-Bissessar also denied reports she had, in her capacity as Ramadharsingh’s replacement, ordered that the firing of anyone from the Ministry of the People and Social Development.