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Defence suggests accused man’s rights may have been breached

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Defence suggests accused man’s rights may have been breached

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A defence attorney yesterday suggested that the rights of one of the accused in the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial may have been breached when he was asked to sign to a list of items seized by law enforcers during a raid on his house in 2016.
Defence attorney Norman Godfrey argued in court that unless it can be proven that the accused, Dwayne Sibblies, was apprised of his rights prior to signing, it should not have happened.
Sibblies is one of eight accused and was a caretaker at the home of former deputy superintendent of the corporation’s Road and Works Department and co-accused, Sanja Elliott.
The raid was carried out at the corporation’s offices and the homes of some senior employees by agents from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), the Financial Investigation Division (FID), and the Integrity Commission (formerly the Office of the Contractor General).
Godfrey made the suggestion during cross-examination of a constable assigned to MOCA, who acted as the scribe during the search.
There was no clarity from the witness to indicate that Sibblies was informed of his rights.
Godfrey is representing Sibblies, Elliott and Elliott’s wife Tasha-Gay Goulbourne-Elliott, who are accused of involvement in the misappropriation of funds amounting to millions of dollars from the corporation.
The other accused are Elliott’s parents, former director of finance and acting secretary manager at the corporation David Harris, former temporary works overseer at the corporation Kendale Roberts, and former employee of a commercial bank Radcliffe McLean.
Approximately four of the more than 10 witnesses, since the trial started in June, disclosed to the court, under sworn testimony, that they encashed cheques of varying amounts drawn on the account of the corporation in their name, for work not done.
Yesterday, defence attorneys were still at odds with the prosecution about  what documents should be allowed in evidence at this stage of the trial, which resumed on Monday after more than a month’s break.
A disgruntled Godfrey, who is one of the senior attorneys in the case, said he believes the prosecutors were “skilfully” trying to include documents that the court had already ruled should not be admitted.
He said the “young counsels” from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions were “misguided”, and suggested that he would be willing to discontinue representation if more “civility” is not displayed.
“It pains me to [see] the regularity with which incivility is being displayed. I don’t know if I can continue with that conduct…” Godfrey told presiding Judge Ann-Marie Grainger.
Three police officers from MOCA returned to the trial to give testimony yesterday.
Their questioning and cross-examination were not completed during previous appearances at the trial because of the ongoing issues between the prosecution and defence attorneys.
Yesterday, on two occasions, short breaks were taken to allow for the prosecution and defence attorneys to seek to again resolve the challenges.

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Today’s horoscope — September 18

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Today’s horoscope — September 18

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Wednesday, September 18, 2019: This year could be unusually dynamic, with you constantly making adjustments for changing situations. You have a lot of energy to put into whatever you deem worthy. If single, you draw a score of admirers. Ask yourself who suits you best. Time and dating will help you decide. If attached, the two of you often discuss travelling or opening a new frontier in your life. When involved in such projects, you become very close. TAURUS seems to be around you always. They have a style that often feels judgmental to you, even if it might not be!

 

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You experience a plethora of emotions, which triggers an unusually creative approach to a situation. Finances could easily be involved. You feel that today’s discussions and events are somehow a replay. Tonight: Loosen up your energy. Throw yourself 100 per cent into plans.

 

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You want to pull back from a hot situation, but what actually occurs is the reverse. You alternate between a well-oiled, conventional approach to a situation and a profound, transformational idea. Only you know what is acceptable. Tonight: Beam in all you want.

 

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Know when to call it a day or when to stop banging your head against the same obstacle over and over. You could discover that a more understanding approach is more workable. Respond to a call from someone you might put on a pedestal. Tonight: On top of your game.

 

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Emphasise your friendships, your direction and what you depend on. Think in terms of using your energy in a more positive vein. You will see quick results, especially involving the support of several key friends. Tonight: Find a reason to celebrate.

 

LEO (July 23-Aug 22): You might be putting someone on a pedestal while actually unsure of how this person thinks of you and what he or she expects from you. During this period of free floating, explore several different options involving a class and/or exercise. Tonight: Into the wee hours.

VIRGO (Aug 23-Sept 22): Do not hesitate to focus on a different approach to get the results you desire. You will do much better if you are spontaneous and tap into an immediate situation. Plug your energy appropriately. Tonight: Consider a mini trip in the near future.

 

LIBRA (Sept 23-Oct 22): One-on-one relating takes you down an intriguing path both intellectually and emotionally. You have an opportunity to get to know an associate more fully. Avoid expressing irritation at a situation that might be stymied. Tonight: Be discreet.

 

SCORPIO (Oct 23-Nov 21): Emphasise what is good in a friendship or specific relationship. You might be more flexible than you realise and able to make an easy adjustment to relate better at this time. Tonight: Go with a friend’s or loved one’s suggestion.

 

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22-Dec 21): Stay focused on the task at hand. Distraction could cause a snafu, which could be costly in terms of finances or time. Your serious front draws results. Go with the flow. Tonight: Play the night away, if you’re not too tired.

 

CAPRICORN (Dec 22-Jan 19): You have a unique style that defines what you do. Approaching a creative project or interlude demands your libido, energy and imagination. Do not allow another person to push you into a corner. Tonight: As you wish.

 

AQUARIUS (Jan 20-Feb 18): A loved one or partner encourages you to take a leap of faith. You do that easily, but you also want to become more recognisable. Express your concerns in a way that allows others to get it. A boss or admirer makes unexpected, heavy demands. Tonight: A force to be reckoned with.

 

PISCES (Feb 19-March 20): This period encourages you to express yourself more openly. Your words not only favour more open self-expression, but also encourage a novel approach. Take a risk if you feel it is right. Tonight: Use your psychic energy to help define which path will succeed.

 

(c) 2019 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

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Hong Kong activists take cause to US Congress Urge pressure on Beijing

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (AFP) — Leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement yesterday appealed directly to US lawmakers to exert pressure on Beijing, warning that an erosion of the city’s special status would embolden China’s leaders around the world.

In an appearance likely to infuriate Beijing, young people at the forefront of Hong Kong’s mass protests testified before a congressional commission in support of US legislation aimed at defending Hong Kongers’ civil rights.

“This is not a plea for so-called ‘foreign interference’ nor for Hong Kong independence,” said Cantopop star Denise Ho, whose music has been banned in mainland China for her activism.

“This is a plea for universal human rights. This is a plea for democracy. This is a plea for the freedom to choose,” she said.

Ho said China’s clampdown in Hong Kong marked a test for all who believe in a world that is “free, open and civil”.

Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, initially against a now-dropped bid by its leaders to allow extraditions to the mainland. The movement has expanded into a broader pro-democracy push in the semi-autonomous financial hub where activists say freedom has been eroding.

“If Hong Kong falls, it would easily become the springboard for the totalitarian regime of China to push its rules and priorities overseas, utilising its economic powers to conform others to their communist values,” she said.

The hearing examined legislation that would end Hong Kong’s special trading status with the United States unless the State Department each year certifies that the city’s authorities are respecting human rights and rule of law.

“Beijing shouldn’t have it both ways, reaping all the economic benefits of Hong Kong’s standing in the world while eradicating our sociopolitical identity,” said 22-year-old Joshua Wong, one of the most prominent figures in an otherwise leaderless and faceless movement.

“As I speak, Hong Kong is standing at a critical juncture. The stakes have never been higher,” he said.

He warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping may take harsher action before next month’s 70th anniversary of communist China.

“Sending in the tanks remains irrational, though not impossible,” Wong said.

He also said that Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive, could take draconian measures that include shutting down the Internet or the public transportation system.

Wong warned that a baby born today would be 28 in 2047 — the date when China’s promise with colonial ruler Britain to allow “one country, two systems” expires.

“That deadline is closer to us than it appears; there’s no return,” Wong said.

“I hope that historians will celebrate the United States Congress for having stood on the side of Hong Kongers, the side of human rights and democracy,” he said.

Hong Kong protesters have rallied outside the US consulate in a bid to gain international support.

President Donald Trump’s Administration, however, has taken a low profile, with some analysts saying that a vocal US stance could feed Beijing’s attempts to brand the protesters as foreign agitators.

Beijing and Lam have already accused the United States of interference and China summoned Germany’s ambassador after Wong visited the European power.

“Blaming the US Government — and this Congress — for the protests is cowardly propaganda and not befitting a nation with aspirations of global leadership,” Representative Chris Smith said at the hearing.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which enjoys wide support in Congress, would also open the way for sanctions on anyone involved in eroding Hong Kong’s status.

A related bill under consideration would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong police after concerns that Western imports abetted their crackdown.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican ally of Trump, hailed the Hong Kong protests as “one of the greatest people-power movements we have witnessed in recent memory”.

“It is my belief that it’s long overdue for the United States and the free world to respond,” said Rubio, co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China which held the hearing.

Representative Jim McGovern, a liberal Democrat who also heads the commission, said that the protesters have “inspired the world”.

“Thank you for your courage and bravery. We stand in solidarity with you,” he told them.

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Macron signals tougher line on immigration

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Macron signals tougher line on immigration

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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PARIS, France (AFP) — With an eye on re-election, France’s Emmanuel Macron has signalled a tougher line on immigration, arguing that the Government must end its “lax” approach to prevent voters from drifting to the far right.

Setting out his priorities for the second half of his mandate on Monday evening, Macron said that his centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party risked being seen as “bourgeois” unless it tackled the issue of immigration.

“By claiming to be humanist we are sometimes too lax,” he told a meeting of his ministers and ruling party representatives, claiming that France’s asylum laws were being “misused” by people-smuggling networks and “people who manipulate” the system.

The question for his three-year-old party, which has struggled to establish a presence in small-town and rural France, was “whether we want to be a bourgeois party or not”, Macron was quoted by party members as telling the meeting.

“The bourgeois have no problem with this (immigration). They don’t come up against it. The working classes live with it. For decades the left didn’t want to deal with this problem so the working class migrated to the far right.”

“We’re like the three little monkeys; we don’t want to see,” he said, referring to the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” dictum represented by three monkeys with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouth.

On Tuesday, 15 lawmakers from Macron’s party appealed against “creating hysteria” about migration and in an open letter to the prime minister and interior minister urged that state medical aid benefitting “some 300,000 foreigners without papers or living precariously” be maintained.

An Ispos/Sopra Steria poll on divisions in French society published Tuesday showed that 63 per cent of respondents felt there were “too many foreigners in France”.

Anti-foreigner sentiment was strongest among working-class respondents, with 88 per cent saying there were too many immigrants.

Sixty-six per cent also said they felt that immigrants did not try hard enough to integrate.

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