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Volume No. 2 Issue No. 64 - December 17, 2008
The News in Brief from The News Desk

Salisbury – December 17, 2008
UWP Calls for Speaker’s Resignation

Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Ron Green has called for the resignation of House Speaker Alix Boyd Knight.

The call for her to resign was adopted by resolution at a Salisbury constituency meeting. The resolution expressed “profound disgust” at the way the Speaker was said to have dealt with the issue of the absence of the Salisbury Parliamentary representative Earl Williams.

The resolution went on to state that “the actions of the Speaker indicates a carefully led plan to force Williams out of the house. As such, we forcefully condemn the Speaker’s action and call for her immediate removal.”

Knight had previously sharply criticized Williams for not appearing in Parliament and had suggested that he should vacate his position. The UWP leader said that Knight was clearly discriminating against his party and in support of the ruling party for not condemning the absence of education minister Sonia Williams.

In her defense, Knight told a local radio station that she was not a party supporter but rather a political activist on the side of justice and fair play. According to Knight, “I am dealing with ideology at this time and not party politics.”

She flatly rejected any calls for her resignation.

Roseau – December 15, 2008
Fuel Prices Reduced For Sixth Time This Year

Government has again reduced the price of petroleum products to consumers; the sixth for the year. Effective Friday, December 12, 2008, Dominican consumers were paying less to fill their gas tanks. Motorists are now paying $9.09 for a gallon of gasoline, down by 96 cents; $10.04 for diesel and $8.83 for kerosene.

The total reductions since June 20, 2008, now stand at $6.60 per gallon, $5.93 per gallon and $6.04 per gallon on gasoline, diesel and kerosene respectively.

Government has also announced a reduction in the price of liquefied petroleum gas commonly referred to as “cooking gas.” As of today Monday December 15, 2008, consumers are paying $128.19 per 100 lb cylinder, $39.46 per 30 lb cylinder, $36.25 per 27.5 lb cylinder and $26.64 per 20 lb cylinder. This is the lowest that prices have reached since the implementation of the new LPG pricing and taxation formula on October 10, 2005.

Roseau – December 14, 2008
Dominica’s Ambassador to the China Resigns

david hsiu
Ambassador David King Hsiu on the left met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang and presented him with RMB-300,000 donation for poverty alleviation from the Dominican embassy.
Dominica’s ambassador to China David Hsiu has offered his resigntion to the government of Dominica.

Just last month, Hsiu filed libel charges against Felix Chen, Chairman and President of Sino Union and part owner of the Clarke Hall Estate development.

Mr Chen’s plans to build a luxury hotel on the Clark Hall Estate through the company Shangri-la International of which Sino Union is a 40% shareholder and the Government of Dominica is a 51% shareholder, remain halted by litigation filed in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) by Rich Victory Investment Ltd., a company closely tied to Mr Hsiu.

Both Mr Hsiu and Chartered Accountant Kieron Pinard-Byrne, who was Shangri-la International's auditor, have filed affidavits in support of liquidating Shangri-la International, while the Government of Dominica has filed documents opposing liquidation. Shangri-la International’s liquidation would permanently halt Mr Chen's plans to develop this area. Mr Chen and Sino Union’s US$20 million investment in the future of the country stands to be lost.

Ambassador Hsiu, a Chinese national was appointed by the Skeritt government in 2006 as the country’s official representative in China.
Listen to Dominica’s AG comment on the resignation

Roseau – December 8, 2008
Opposition Leader to Press for Electoral Reform

Leader of the opposition United Workers Party Ron Green is calling for electoral reform even as Dominica prepares for the next general election constitutionally due in May 2010.

Green said that his party would soon appeal for outside intervention in the political process in Dominica. He called for the purging of the voters list, opposition access to the local media, and the introduction of election observers.

According to the opposition leader, his party was prepared to call on as yet unnamed international groups to assist with those much needed reform before the next election.

There was no immediate response from the ruling Dominica Labour Party.

Wesley – December 8, 2008
Police Make Arrest in Fatal Stabbing

Police in Dominica are reporting the arrest of a man from the village of Wesley in the stabbing death of McDonald Joseph of the same village.

Police PRO Inspector Weeks would not give any further information on the name of the person held but said that he was helping in the investigations.

Forty year old Joseph was found face down in his garden just a short distance away from a residential area of Wesley.

The death of Joseph prompted Police Commissioner Mathias Lestrade to call on the young people of Dominica to stay away from violence saying that the young people were apparently out of control.

Joseph’s murder brought to seven the number of people killed so far this year and the second in two months. Just last month, 25 year old Yannick Lander of Castle Comfort was arrested for the murder of 24 year old Duane Pinard also of Castle Comfort.

Wesley – December 4, 2008
A Wesley Resident Murdered

Residents of the North East village of Wesley were this afternoon mourning the stabbing death of McDonald Joseph. The young farmer and construction worker was found with stab wounds to his face and upper body in an open field about 300 yards from a residential area of Wesley.

Chairman of the village council Julian Jeremy was quoted as saying that it was difficult to understand who was responsible for Joseph’s death since he was a kind, humble and hard working individual who never troubled anyone.

The murder of the Wesley resident comes just one year after a similar stabbing in that village, which left another young person dead.

So far police has made no arrests in the slaying and a police investigation is ongoing.

Plymouth – December 3, 2008
Montserrat Volcano Erupts

montserrat volcano
The Montserrat volcano erupted for the second time in 2008
A dome over the crater of Montserrat's volcano apparently collapsed earlier today spewing ash and molten rocks high into the Caribbean sky.

The eruption also set several houses on fire in the abandoned capital of Plymouth. No deaths were reported. The town has been abandoned sine 1997 when over 19 lives were lost in a major eruption.

The last big eruption took place on July 28, 2008. At the time, the collapse sent bursts of volcanic material sweeping into the abandoned former capital of Plymouth.

The dome has formed and collapsed at least five times in previous years. A majority of the island’s residents left for the United Kingdom and other Caribbean countries after the 1997 eruption but some 5 000 inhabitants remain on the so-called sheltered side of the island.

Roseau – December 3, 2008
Public Service Union Accepts Government Wage Offer

General Secretary of the Public Service Union (PSU) Thomas Letang has confirmed that his union has accepted government’s offer of a 6 percent increase over three years for all public servants.

Government’s offer includes a 3 percent increase for 2006-07, 1 percent for 2007-08, and 2 percent for 2008-09. Letang said his union accepted the wage offer because there were other non salary benefits in the package. He also indicated that his union was only six months away from negotiating a new collective wage bargaining package with the government of Dominica.

It was only in July of this year that Letang flatly rejected that same offer claiming at the time that his union was not prepared to go along with a 1 and 2 percent increase since this was well below the rate of inflation and workers real wage would suffer. At the time he also complained about government’s proposed 52 percent increase on average for all ministers and parliamentarians.

The increases do not apply to teachers and police officers who negotiate separate agreements with government.

In 2003, the PSU accepted a 5 percent pay cut, which was removed in 2005.

Roseau – December 3, 2008
Banana Company to Lay Off Fifteen Workers

In a sign of continuing trouble for Dominica’s ailing banana industry, the Dominica Banana Producers Ltd (DBPL) says it will lay off fifteen of its employees on December 15 of this year.

The announcement comes on the heels of the news that WIDECO would no longer purchase bananas from the company.

For the past several years, WIDECO would purchase bananas from the DBPL for sale in the United Kingdom market.

The DBPL was set up to replace the Dominica Banana Marketing Corporation (DBMC) when the preferential treatment for Dominica bananas ended in 2001.

Roseau – December 3, 2008
Another Judge for Dominica?

Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Hugh Rollins has revealed that another high court judge for Dominica is on the cards.

According to the Chief Justice, the court has for a long time discussed the issue of having two high court judges preside in Dominica. However, no provisions had been made to date to make this a reality. He confirmed that plans were well underway to achieving this goal and that another justice will soon be named.

It has been a long standing tradition in Dominica to have only one sitting high court judge during the criminal assizes.

Dominican Davidson Baptiste is the current High Court judge.

Roseau – December 2, 2008
Good Hope Pastor Fined for Indecent Assault

A pastor from the village of Good Hope has been fined $10 000 to be paid in two weeks or a one year prison sentence after a high court jury found him guilty on one count of indecent assault against a ten year old girl from that village.

The pastor was originally charged with four counts of indecent assault but the jury found him guilty on only one of those counts.

His defense consul David Bruney had strenuously argued that the charges against his client “were simply not true.” Bruney described as odd the fact that the jury found him guilty on only one of the charges. He declared that “he found it difficult to understand the jury verdict,” and that he was confident that his client was completely innocent.

Bruney pointed to that fact that his client had interacted with hundreds of girls over his years as a pastor and that this was the first time that any such accusation surfaced.

For his part, the pastor who spent four days in prison, said that he had learned a valuable lesson when he saw the number of young men who were incarcerated. He indicated that he would continue to preach the gospel in the village.

Meanwhile, the father of the abused girl told a local radio station that he was disappointed with the court’s ruling and that he felt that justice was not served. He vowed to take matters into his own hands if any such occurrence were to be repeated, lamenting the fact that the shepherd of the flock had resorted to preying on his flock.

Roseau – December 2, 2008
Defense Lawyer Call for Extended Role of Director Of Public Prosecutions (DPP)

Local defense attorney David Bruney is calling for an extended role for the Director Of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in investigating crimes on the island.

Bruney made the comments while commenting on the recent prosecution of a pastor for indecent assault. He said that government would be well advised to make use of the policing skills of the current DPP who previously served a s a police superintendent.

According to Bruney, the prosecution of crimes on the island continues to suffer from the lack of resources. He called on government to provide more training for police officers and to make more resources available to improve the standard of investigating crimes in Dominica.

Roseau – December 2, 2008
Brown Sugar Shortage Could Continue into Next year

Commercial Manager of the Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA), Norman Dorival is reporting that the shortage of brown sugar in Dominica will continue well into 2009.

According to Dorival, the problem arose after the sugar suppliers from Guyana informed DEXIA that they would no longer be able to provide sugar to Dominica, since they were committed to supplying an increasing quantity of sugar to the European Union, under the recently signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

Dorival noted that a contract has since been signed with sugar suppliers in Guatemala to meet the shortfall. However, the supplies would not reach Dominica until sometime in early 2009. In the meantime, Dorival reassured consumers that there was an adequate supply of whit sugar already on the island.

Toronto – November 28, 2008
Dominican living in Toronto killed by motor vehicle

elpha augustine
Elha Augustine
Elpha Augustine of Portsmouth, Dominica, who was residing in Scarborough, Ontario was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street to her apartment. She subsequently died from the injuries that she sustained.

Elpha spent most of her working life in Roseau and was variously employed at J Asthaphans and company and at Cable and Wireless.

She is survived by her parents and her two children.

BVI – November 28, 2008
Death of Dominican man in the BVI ruled accidental

leonard jnobaptiste
Leonard Jno Baptist died in the BVI during a fishing trip.
A Coroner’s Inquest in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), into the death of Leonard Jno Baptiste, a native of Dominica who died suddenly in the Territory handed down its findings yesterday.

The Jury unanimously determined that the deceased died on 10th February 2008 in the territorial waters of the BVI and the manner of death was accidental drowning. The jury comprised of 5 women, heard evidence from 8 witnesses.

The jury heard evidence that on Sunday February 10th 2008 at 11:30 a.m., Police were called to Beef Island Bridge where the body of the deceased was met in a 16ft Boston whaler along with three other occupants. According to information, the deceased and the other three individuals had earlier gone on a fishing trip.

They set a net in the water and the deceased and another from the group went into the water to retrieve the fish that were caught in the net. After sometime the deceased was not seen on the surface of the water, which prompted his companion who was at the far end of the net to search for him.

It was further reported that the deceased was found under the water with his foot entangled in the net. Initial attempts by his companion to free him proved futile.

His companion then resurfaced and called on the other occupants of the boat to assist him, which they did. They managed to free the deceased and took him into the boat. Attempts to resuscitate the deceased were unsuccessful.

The body was then taken to the shore where he was pronounced dead by the medical authorities.

Roseau – November 19, 2008
Ambrose George Fired Amidst Allegations of Wrongdoing

ambrose George
Ambrose George fired for the second time as minister.
Ambrose George, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructural Development has been fired by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

In a tersely worded statement on state run radio, the Dominica Broadcasting Corporation (DBS), Skerrit thanked George for his services to the state but did not give any reasons for his departure.

This is the second time that George has been axed as a minister. In 2002, then Prime Minister Pierre Charles fired George as finance minister after FBI agents in Puerto Rico, arrested his traveling companion Julian Giraud on money laundering charges. At the time George was not charged, but Giraud was eventually convicted in a Miami court and sentenced to prison See related story

George was subsequently rehired by Skerrit following the death of Pierre Charles in January 2004.

Ironically, Giraud has been named in the most recent allegations swirling around former minister George. Most of the allegations centers on the attempted setting up of an offshore bank in Dominica. Recent reports revealed a letter purportedly written by George in which he demanded payment of at least US $ 100 000 for a go-between who was instrumental in setting up an offshore bank in Dominica. Government later revoked the license of the bank when it was determined that the principal investor was a convicted money launderer.

It is believed that George was instrumental in obtaining the license, and may have actually signed when acting as Prime Minister. Government recently removed scrutiny of the offshore banking sector from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). Once the news broke in Dominica, people began calling for the Prime Minister to take swift action to get rid of George.

Prime Minister Skerrit also announced a Cabinet reshuffle in which he assumes responsibility for National Security and Rayburn Blackmore takes over George’s Ministry. At the same time, Vince Henderson becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs and is replaced by Senator Sonia Williams as Minister of Education, Sports, Human Resource and Youth Affairs. Please Comment on This Article

Read more of the EARLIER NEWS IN Brief

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