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I HAVE TO FLEE

By Newsday Staff Saturday, June 28 2014

click on pic to zoom in

Deputy Director of Physical Education and Sport, Ruth Marchan, is planning to flee the country out of fear following the murder of Curtis “Tall Man” Gibson, the man she described as her bodyguard and who she claimed a couple weeks ago was among persons, including herself, close to the Life Sport Programme targeted to be killed.

Gibson, 42, one of four persons associated with the programme who Marchan revealed was under threat, was shot to death at his Malabar home in Arima early Thursday morning. He was asleep with his common-law wife when gunmen broke down his door and sprayed him with bullets. His wife escaped unharmed.

Up to press time, no suspect was held for Gibson’s murder. Autopsy reports confirmed Gibson died for shock haemorrhaging, consistent with being shot multiple times. Police said Gibson had been killed “mafia style”, as he also had a single gunshot to the head.

A terrified Marchan told Newsday yesterday, “I will have to give up my entire life which means that I will have to sell my house and my vehicles and leave the country.”

“I have been forced to live in fear and I want the authorities and whoever to help me,” Marchan said.

Marchan added that she will not have a job anymore since she would not be able to return to a place where she will not be comfortable. She did not wish to expand on any further aspects of the Life Sport Programme, except to say that things had gone too far in that project.

But Caryl Keller, Adviser to the Minister of Sport, refuted claims that Gibson’s murder had any relation with the Life Sport Programme. He said that killing was as a result of the spiralling crime rate in the country.

Keller also believes Marchan had become paranoid and he had not been able to make sense out of all she has been saying about the Life Sport Programme. He said what Marchan has been saying was just not logical.

Asked why Marchan was away from work at the Ministry, Keller said as far as he knew she was on vacation and was expected to return to duties on August 12.

A statement from the Sports Ministry said Marchan had no authority to speak about Life Sport.

“The management of the Life Sport Programme wishes to inform that Ms Ruth Marchan has no authority to speak on behalf of the Life Sport Programme as it is not formally under her purview at the Ministry of Sport,” the release said. Keller also lashed out at Minister of National Security, Gary Griffith on claims that the programme was filled with criminals. He said the Minister had been giving inaccurate information about the programme.

Griffith in an interview with Newsday yesterday said Gibson’s killing proves that criminality exists within the scheme.

Newsday had asked for his response to the death such as if he would probe it, to which he said, “no” because that is the purview of the Commissioner of Police.

“What I would say though, it would emphasise the fact again...that there are certain persons in the Life Sport who claim that my statements, that there were questionable activities, and my accusations were unfounded and were a figment of my imagination, and those are the same individuals that then came after the fact to claim their lives were at risk, based on questionable activities in the same Life Sport,” Griffith said. Life Sport is now under the National Security Ministry after Prime Minister ordered the programme be transferred from the Sports Ministry and also commissioned an audit by Finance Minister Larry Howai.

Furthermore, Keller said Gibson has never been employed with Life Sport. This supported what was said by Sport Minister, Anil Roberts, during the sitting of Parliament yesterday.

Roberts told the Parliament Gibson was not associated with the Life Sport Programme in “any way or fashion,” disputing claims that were made by Marchan when she first revealed the ills of the scheme.

Yesterday, the Public Transport Service Corporation issued a release expressing condolences on the death of Gibson while at the same time saying that he worked with the corporation for some 12 years as a CSR II (customer service representative) Facilities Administration. Newsday understands Gibson last had responsibility, as of 2010, for the maxi taxi bays at the public transport hub, City Gate, Port-of-Spain. Linus Phillip, president of the Route 2 Maxi Taxi Association, expressing condolences said Gibson was well-liked, and a good person.

The Sports Ministry also issued a release dissociating Gibson with the Life Sport Programme.

“News reports which refer to Gibson as a Life Sport employee are totally erroneous, inaccurate and absolutely misleading. It is with great concern that this misinformation continues to be published in the media, even in the midst of an audit of the programme currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Finance,” the release said.

But Newsday sources confirmed a connection, revealing that Gibson, who was quite close to an imam in an east Trinidad mosque, was the man who would go to various communities to get young potential candidates for the Life Sport Programme.

According to the source, Gibson was the “main man” in the programme. “He was the man on the ground,” the source said. “He would work for the imam by going out and convincing youngsters between the ages of 16 and 25 years who were eyeing a life of crime to join the Life Sport Programme as it led them towards a positive life.”

Keller also told Newsday that Permanent Secretary in the Sports Ministry, Ashwin Creed, is not missing as has been reported but has been out of the country on family business including securing United States citizenship since his daughter already enjoys that status. Buxo Potts, special adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board, refuted claims made recently by Marchan, linking him to the plot to harm her and other officials of th Sports Ministry. He said he has never and still does not have any involvement in the Life Sport Programme.

(See Pages 5 & 14)

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