Maharaj wants Paria/LMCS prosecuted; CoE Commissioner says that’s not in their remit

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Maharaj wants Paria/LMCS prosecuted; CoE Commissioner says that’s not in their remit

Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into the Paria diving tragedy, Jerome Lynch, KC, said it is not part of the CoE’s remit to recommend prosecution.

Lynch made the statement on Friday, after Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj recommended that both Paria and LMCS be prosecuted for breaches of the OSH Act.

Maharaj, during his closing statements, said a recommendation should be made to the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OSHA) to prosecute both parties.

The Commission is expected to deliver its completed report into the accident that claimed the lives of Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Kazim Ali Jr to the President by April 30.

Maharaj said, “Having regard to OSHA’s preliminary report which suggested that both Paria and LMCS may be guilty of various offences under the OSH Act, the Commissioners may consider, based on the evidence, to recommend proceedings by OSHA.”

He said Section 91:2 of the OSH Act permits the authority to bring summary proceedings against those who have been found to have breached the act upon the advice of a Commission.

He said the act provides that these duties are also owed to visitors and people who may be affected by the operations or activities of the industrial establishment.

The Commission’s chairman, Lynch, said the Government must be made aware that there is a six-month window in which OSHA can bring charges before the Magistrates’ Court, so the final report can be made public within the timeframe.

“Any delay in disclosing the report generally and in particular to OSHA, may result in them being time-barred,” Lynch said.

Maharaj also noted the provision of the OSH Act which states that where a person is killed, injured or develops a disease because their employer breached the act, the employer should be liable to a fine of $100,000 or three years’ salary for the employee, whichever is greater.

Lynch noted that the sum was not “very much” and Maharaj agreed.

“We are recommending that this should be looked at, because the evidence here discloses breaches of the OSH Act,” Maharaj said.

Lynch, however, said: “All we can do is identify the facts and recommend, for example, either the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) or OSHA consider whether or not an offence has been disclosed. It is not part of our responsibility to say LMCS are guilty of a crime or Paria are guilty of some breach of the act.