Commissioners in Paria accident CoE assure there’s no political influence

Home*Cover Story*News

Commissioners in Paria accident CoE assure there’s no political influence

The commissioners appointed the newly formed Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the deaths of four underwater divers in February, have given the assurance that they will be not be politically influenced in any way.

The commission comprises of Justice Dennis Morrison and subsea specialist Gregory Wilson as well as the lead counsel to the CoE former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC.

Morrison and Wilson received their instruments of appointment from Acting President Christine Kangaloo on Friday and are to examine and enquire into all of the circumstances which led to the tragic deaths of four employees of LMCS Limited – Fazal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry and Kazim Ali Jr, which occurred on February 25 at facilities owned by Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited.

Morrison, a former President of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica, currently serves as a Justice of Appeal in the Court of Appeal of the Cayman Islands and Wilson is the Managing Director and lead consultant of Namaka Subsea TT, a local subsea specialist.

During a press conference with Maharaj at the Hyatt Regency following their appointments, Morrison said, “I can say, I have no connection with Paria, I have no connection with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago except to the extent that I have been asked to do this… I come to this exercise with a completely open mind.”

Wilson added, “I am not affiliated with any political party. I am not affiliated with Paria or any state agency in any form. My interest in this is to bring an answer to the families of course and to the nation.”

Maharaj said he is doing this on behalf of the State of Trinidad and Tobago. “I took this appointment because I believe I have a duty to assist the State and the State is totally different to any political party. The people constitute the State in effect… I am basically like the lawyer on behalf of the people of T&T in this enquiry.”

Maharaj added, “What is happening with this Commission of Enquiry, all the allegations that are being made, the public will have an opportunity, they will be able to see the hearing, they will be able to assess for themselves, persons who make allegation against one side or the other, they will have cross-examinations. So it will be open and transparent and therefore I think the public will be able to judge for themselves whether the findings of this enquiry meet the evidence which was presented to it.”

The commission is expected to submit a report to President Paula-Mae Weekes six months from the first date of procedural hearing which Morrison expects will take place in August.

Morrison also said in due course the Commission might consider legal representation for the families of the divers which was not ultimately a matter for the CoE alone but also a matter for the State.