CoE into Piaria drownings begins today …

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CoE into Piaria drownings begins today …

The first procedural hearing for the commission of enquiry into the Paria diving tragedy begins today, a little over six months after four professional divers tragically died while performing maintenance on a pipeline at Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited’s Pointe-a-Pierre facilities.

However, the commission, chaired by Queen’s Counsel Jerome Lynch, is not expected to plunge straight into the evidence of witnesses, as it is first expected to address procedural issues during hearings scheduled for today and tomorrow.

Lead counsel to the commission Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj explained that this hearing is solely to set out the arrangements for the evidential hearing and no evidence is being heard at this stage of the enquiry.

Maharaj said the CoE has so far reviewed thousands of pages of documentary evidence.

The commission has the power to summon witnesses to give evidence.

Witnesses must comply or face a $2,000 fine, according to the Commission of Enquiry Act.

On February 25, five divers employed with independent contractor LMCS Limited – Christopher Boodram, Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry – were sucked into the 30 inch-diameter pipeline they were performing maintenance work on.

Boodram, who, like his colleagues, was seriously injured, managed to make his way to the entrance of the pipeline and was rescued.

Boodram and his colleagues on the surface subsequently claimed they were barred from attempting to rescue the others, who Boodram claimed were still alive and awaiting assistance.

Three of the divers’ bodies were recovered on February 28, while Nagassar’s was recovered the following day.

The public hearings will take place at Tower D at the International Waterfront Centre in Port-of-Spain, with a live stream available on the commission’s website-