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Whyte’s family to get compensation – PM

Whyte’s family to get compensation – PM

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Compensation to be paid to the family of deceased customs guard Othneil Whyte has been delayed.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves revealed at a press conference on Monday, that a sum of money, approved by Cabinet, has been delayed, because the total may have been more than can be allotted to the relatives of a person who is killed in the line of duty.

Whyte lost his life on June 3, 2012, in Union Island, where he lived, during a police operation, in which three Venezuelans were killed and others injured. The foreigners were shot by a police officer, after the police officer and Whyte boarded the foreigners’ boat “El Amigo Fay”, which was anchored a short distance from the harbour.

Whyte’s body was pulled from the water shortly after the shooting, and he died later that night at the Union Island health centre. There were no gunshot wounds on Whyte’s body.

Packages containing a substance resembling cocaine were retrieved from the sea the following day. That substance, after testing, turned out to be soap powder.

The Prime Minister said that Cabinet had ordered that compensation should be paid to the dead man’s family, but this has not happened to date.

“….I also called the Cab[inet] Sec[retary] and I also talked to the Director General (DG) of Finance and Planning to find out what the decisions which we took in relation to the money to be paid to Othneil Whyte’s family, whether the money had been paid, and when I spoke to the DG, he told me he had to check….

“I understand that some of the monies which we ordered to be paid… are more than normally would be required from the Cabinet…. In such circumstances there was a question as to whether… the Cabinet had the authority so to do….”

Gonsalves said that he told the Cabinet Secretary that he should have been informed sooner if Cabinet had gone over the limit, which he didn’t think was the case, but if it were, the necessary steps would be taken to rectify this.

“….Tell me if that is the law… I don’t think it is, but if it is, I will go to parliament and pass a special law so that money will be paid,” he stated.

“It’s not a whole heap of money, but it’s a sum beyond what is stated if a public servant dies in the line of his duty, but we had taken the decision…..

“I have to function within the law, and if we saying to give more money than what on the face of the law should be given, but we consider it to be just in all the circumstances, pass a law on it….

“I don’t think we have exceeded the law… but if a man think that I have done so, tell me… I will correct it. And I can correct it by legislation….”

The Prime Minister also indicated that a coroner’s inquest into the death of Whyte and the Venezuelans is one of a number of enquiries to be heard.

“I asked the Honourable Attorney General… I also asked the Cabinet Secretary while I was away to find out from the distinguished Director of Public Prosecutions to find out what is the status of the coroner’s inquest.

“In fact, I was told… that the DPP said that the matter is with the Chief Magistrate for her to allocate a date,” Gonsalves said.(JJ)

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