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Speak the truth, it will set you free

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08.MAR.07

Editor: It has become necessary to formally respond to recent statements aired and published in the local media that are being propagated by the Opposition New Democratic Party.

Firstly let me categorically state that the four issues that I will address are complete falsehoods, however, I would seek to present Government’s position on the matters, in an attempt to clarify and correctly inform the public.

The New Democratic Party has been publicly stating that:

• Mr. Elvis “Abijah” Abbey an employee at the Customs and Excise Department discovered a sum of US $103,000.00 in a television set shipped to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Opposition is further charging that Mr. Abbey’s transfer to another Government Department is as a result of his feat. {{more}}This is absolutely untrue in both respects. Mr. Abbey was not the Officer at the Customs and Excise Department who initiated the discovery process or made the discovery, and his transfer decidedly was not improper or tainted by any wrong-doing on the part of the Public Service Commission or the Government.

• Three issues involving Mr. Theophilus “Benjie” Cottle, are also being propelled, where again the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is being accused of having involvement and the outcomes have resulted in the favor of Mr. Cottle. These issues are as follows:

• It is being stated that Mr. Cottle was released on health grounds by Government on a drug possession charge. In the matter that is being highlighted, Mr. Cottle and his co-defendant were denied bail by the Magistrate’s Court; they subsequently appealed in the High Court and were granted bail. When the matter was heard in the High Court, Mr. Cottle was found not guilty of the charge, and his co-defendant was charged with the offence. The Opposition’s statements on this case impute Government interference in the Judicial System of the country, which cannot be any more absurd and further from the truth. At no time has or will the Government undermine or interfere with the Legal and Judicial system of this country.

• It is also being stated that Government released Mr. Cottle on a gun possession charge. Yet again this is totally untrue, in fact Mr. Cottle and his wife were charged with the offence and his wife was found guilty. There was no interference, guidance or involvement of any kind by the Government.

• The third allegation by the Opposition is that the Government took away the Victoria Park from religious leaders and gave it to a drug dealer for a show. This again is absurd! The Kingstown Town Board granted permission to and collected the necessary fees from Mr. Theophilus “Benjie” Cottle for the use of the Park to host an event in 2004. Mr. Cottle indicated that he had booked the overseas artiste when he was asked to reschedule to allow for the hosting of a Gospel Festival activity at the Victoria Park on the same evening.

It must be noted that the request by the Gospel Festival Committee was made after permission had been granted to Mr. Cottle.

To my knowledge, the Gospel Festival Committee was granted permission to host their event at another venue. This arrangement was worked out by the relevant Government bodies, and my understanding is that there were no issues regarding Government acting inappropriately until recently. It must be noted that should Government have acted otherwise in this matter, it would have indeed been interference in the operations of the bodies concerned.

As Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, I find it necessary to make an appeal to you, to act as responsible, balanced and professional media practitioners, by presenting not only Government’s side of these and other issues, but the facts on all issues that are reported in the media.

Regards,
Hans King
Press Secretary

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