Friday 15 November, 2019

PNPYO calls for Chuck's resignation after Reid, Pinnock raid criticism

Delroy Chuck

Delroy Chuck

The People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) is calling for the immediate resignation of Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck following his public criticism of the way detectives swooped down on, and arrested his former Cabinet colleague, Ruel Reid.

Loop News reported on Wednesday that, among other things, Chuck accused detectives of being “salicious”, “in that you put so many people at these persons’ gates...(to arrest them).”

He was speaking with reporters following an event in St Mary on Wednesday.

Reid, who was fired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in March, is at the centre of a multi-million dollar corruption probe. He, along with the President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) Fritz Pinnock, Reid’s wife Sharen and his daughter Sharrelle, as well as a Jamaica Labour Party Councillor in North West St Ann, Kim Brown-Lawrence were arrested in coordinated pre-dawn operations in three parishes.

The PNPYO is expressing concern about Minister Chuck’s independence in the matter.

“His statements have eroded any confidence that he will not interfere with the investigation and prosecution of this case,” said the PNPYO in a statement Thursday.

“Mr Chuck has gone on record to denounce the approach of the investigative teams and he is further mired in controversy as his daughter, Ms Carolyn Chuck, is reported as being retained as defence counsel for Mr Ruel Reid."

Carolyn Chuck was seen entering Reid’s St Andrew home Wednesday morning, hours before he, his wife and daughter were escorted from the premises under a blanket and whisked away in unmarked police vehicles.

According to the YO, the 2002 Government of Jamaica Code governing the conduct of Ministers, Section 1 (vi) requires that Ministers ‘ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.’

“It is our firm belief that in this instance, Minister Chuck represents a classic case of conflict of interest. He should recuse himself from the office to avoid any further impropriety or exercise of undue influence that may be seen as benefiting his daughter or his former colleague,” the PNP's youth organisation stated.

The PNPYO has also asked Chuck to refrain from making any further comments on the matter, whether in public or in private, and that he allows the police and the judiciary to act freely, without duress or undue influence.

As reported by Loop News, Chuck expressed his disappointment at the way Reid and the others were apprehended.

“The DPP seems to have had no additional material or evidence and what seems so unfortunate is that the arrests took place, which looks like Nicodemus in the night,” Chuck said.

“I don’t get the impression that these persons are actually running away, they have made themselves available on all occasions so in fact if an arrest should have been made they could easily have been asked to come in so that they could be charged."

According to Chuck, if charges were to be laid: “I suspect they could easily have been granted their own bail or they could be asked to surrender their travel documents as the case may be.”

The Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) reported Wednesday morning that the Financial Investigation Division, MOCA and the Constabulary Financial Unit of the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Division (C-TOC) conducted operations at four locations in Kingston, St Catherine and St Ann.

“The operations, which commenced at 5am, targeted the main suspects implicated in multi-million dollar corruption and fraudulent schemes perpetrated at the Ministry of Education, Caribbean Maritime University and other Government entities falling under the portfolio responsibility of Mr Ruel Reid, former Senator and Minister of Government,” the MOCA release stated.

But Chuck also questioned whether detectives were sure about what they were doing.

According to the Justice Minister: "Based on the little I’ve heard, it’s a further search for more material so it seems like the authorities are still not sure what they are looking for.”

He also questioned why the investigations were taking so long and appeared to have a warning for detectives.

He said: “Come to a conclusion. If you don’t have the material, report that there’s not enough material to charge but if you go and you charge, be careful that you (don’t) charge on very limited evidence with the end result that the cases might not go very far and that would undermine the sort of confidence that you would have in the institution if you proceed to charge on very limited evidence and the cases turn out to be weak or dismissed by the court.”

Chuck admitted that he does not know the evidence but stressed that at the end of the day “we must be very professional in what we do.”

He expressed the hope that the manner in which the law enforcement agencies carried out their operations can demonstrate professionalism.

The five co-accused have since been slapped with multiple charges following their arrest and questioning. They were remanded in custody overnight and are expected in court soon.

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