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Dead customs guard’s son joins ‘no deal’ chorus

Dead customs guard’s  son joins ‘no deal’ chorus


“No deal” seems to be a common refrain among parties with interest in the probe of the saga off Union Island on June 3, that left four people dead.{{more}}

And Abdon Whyte, son of Othneil Whyte, the customs guard who died during the incident, is the latest person to join the chorus.

“I made no deal with the prime minister,” Whyte said on radio Tuesday night.

“He never promised me anything. So, I just want to make that abundantly clear that the prime minister never gave me anything to keep quiet,” Whyte further said on Clemroy “Bert” Francois’ “Current Affairs” programme on NICE Radio.

Gonsalves telephoned Whyte from New York on September 24, after Whyte had called into Chris “Too Cool” Jones’ “AM Mayhem” show on Hot 97 FM.

Whyte said he had failed to see Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, at his office in Kingstown and Gonsalves had not returned his call.

The customs guard was found at sea, hours after a reported shoot-out between a local policeman and person(s) aboard the Venezuelan boat — “El Amigo Fay”.

Three foreigners were shot and killed and another injured during the incident.

Comptroller of Customs Grenville John told SEARCHLIGHT last week that the policeman was accompanying Whyte, who was on duty when the incident occurred.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Colin Williams, on September 19, discontinued attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and customs violations charges against the Venezuelans, who have since left the country.

Whyte, who speaks Spanish, quoted a Venezuelan newspaper that said one of the South American nation’s politicians had said the men were freed because of a deal between Kingstown and Caracas.

Gonsalves, Williams and the local Venezuelan Embassy have said in separate statements that there was no such arrangement.

Whyte said on Tuesday he appreciated the prime minister’s call and they “spoke about a number of things related to the case.”

“He tried to explain … to best of his knowledge as to why certain decisions were made, but that was the extent of the conversation,” Whyte said of his conversation with Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs.

“I am a person, … it doesn’t matter if you and me are friend or we are not friend, if you are doing something and I disagree with it, or it is affecting me, I will come out and I will speak,” Whyte further said.

Seeking closure

Whyte, who has said that he is his family’s spokesperson in the matter of his father’s death, told the radio programme he was silent on the incident until he wrote an opinion piece in the newspaper for his father’s birthday.

He then telephoned the radio programme on September 24.

Whyte said his comments sparked discussion about the incident and the ensuing scandal.

“I didn’t cause the death of my father and we need answers to a number of questions and those weren’t provided,” he said.

“This is not about politics. This is not about friendship. This is not about anything. This is about a family wanting to know how their father died. I just want to be clear on that,” Whyte said.

“I just don’t want our family to be dragged into the whole whether we are ULP supporters or NDP supporters or whatever,” he said in reference to the ruling and opposition political parties.

“Whoever we support, that has nothing to do with it. … Let us resolve this matter. Let us find out how this man died and if anybody to be held responsible, let them be held responsible,” Whyte said.

“The whole thing about this, is we need some closure. I hope that the coroner’s inquest can be started as soon as possible …” he further stated.

Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday that it was an opposition politician who had made the claim about a deal in Venezuela.

According to Venezuelan media reports, the politician was Carlos Mata Figueroa.

He was defence minister under the Hugo Chavez government from January 2010 to January 2012 and the Chief of the Venezuelan armed forces, and is running for mayor of a district there.

Gonsalves further said the Whytes should have been informed of the DPP’s decision to discontinue the cases, before the decision was made public. (