|Ish and Steve claim PNM persecution |
by Shane Superville Saturday, August 12 2017
BUSINESSMEN Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson yesterday claimed persecution by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) in the continuation of the Piarco Airport Inquiry which has been dragging on for several years.
Ferguson and Galbaransingh along with former United National Congress (UNC) Ministers Brian Kuei Tung and Sadiq Baksh, former Airports Authority Chairmen Tyrone Gopee, Peter Cateau and Ameer Edoo all appeared before Port of Spain Magistrate Ejenny Espinet yesterday.
Temperatures rose when the attorney representing Ferguson and Galbaransingh, Rajiv Persad, was unable to attend and his colleague Christophe Rodriguez stood in his place. Rodriguez said one of the accused Amrith Maharaj, former managing director of Northern Construction Ltd was unable to attend the hearing as he was feeling unwell.
“Your worship we have a constraint this morning as Mr Maharaj was up to yesterday (Thursday) complaining of feeling ill.
I feel it may be a better course of action for us to wait until everyone is present to deal with the matter,” Rodriguez said.
Magistrate Espinet said while the questions can be posed collectively, there was no need for all of the accused to be present for the initial proceedings.
Espinet later asked the men if they would be presenting evidence under oath during the proceedings, to which Galbaransingh said he would but also wanted the liberty of airing his grievance to the court.
“I want to register my strong objection to the continuation of this matter. It is my contention that these proceedings have been instigated by the PNM government, which since its commencement, has caused me great expense and anxiety,” Galbaransingh said.
Ferguson also told the court that he too was opposed to the continuation of the inquiry. “It is my position that these charges are politically instigated under the control of former prime minister Patrick Manning (now deceased) and former Attorney General John Jeremy. I also object to this hearing until the High Court releases their decision on whether or not the matter is to proceed.” Elaine Greene, who held in the absence of special prosecutor Gilbert Peterson, SC, criticised the remarks of both Galbaransingh and Ferguson saying the statements of two were gratuitous. Galbaransingh and Ferguson are facing a number of charges relating to the construction of the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport Terminal building.
Magistrate Espinet adjourned the matter to August 18.