Archive for May 1st, 2009

Top cops cleared of any crime

| 01/05/2009 | 48 Comments

(CNS): Over one year since their suspension, the criminal investigations against the former Commissioner Stuart Kernohan (left) and Chief Superintendent John Jones have been dropped. According to a statement from Acting Police Commissioner James Smith, the Attorney General’s Chambers has reviewed the files and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prefer any criminal charges against either Kernohan or Jones.  Smith said he was in agreement with the decision but was waiting on a file from the special police investigation team (SPIT) to consider whether or not there was evidence for disciplinary action against Jones.

In what has become a regular occurrence with anything relating to Operation Tempura and SPIT, the statement regarding the decisions was circulated to the media late Friday afternoon. It followed an announcement some 30 minutes earlier from Kernohan’s spokesperson, David Legge, who said the former top cop was now considering taking civil action regarding damages. In his statement Kernohan, who has steadfastly maintained his total innocence since the beginning, lamented the whole situation, from the enormous cost of the investigation to the governor’s behaviour.

“It is unbelievable that it took 13 months to reach this conclusion which was blatantly obvious from the outset,” Kernohan said. “Jack was fully aware of the circumstances regarding the early stages of the enquiry having been briefed by myself and Chief Superintendent John Jones. He and Bridger were informed by the Chief Justice of his opinion on the entry to the Cayman Net News offices—that no criminal offense had been committed. I was not even in charge of the enquiry at that stage on 3 September, 2007, having asked Jack to allow me to stand down several days earlier.”

On 27 March, Jack accompanied by SIO Bridger told the local media in a specially called press briefing that Kernohan was not under investigation, but it has since become public knowledge that at the time he was already being investigated by SPIT. In late February 2008 and on 20 March Jack’s lawyer had petitioned the Chief Justice Anthony Smellie to obtain warrants to search the home and offices of Kernohan, which Smellie denied as he said there was no evidence to support the request.

“It has been an absolute disgrace. This high cost to the people of the Cayman Islands is not only measured in millions of dollars but also on the impact on law and order and the Caymanian reputation,” added Kernohan, who learned that the criminal investigation was closed through his attorney’s Campbells on Thursday. “My greatest regret is not being able to finish what I started with the fine officers in the RCIPS and the people of the Cayman Islands. Bridger has gone. Jack needs to follow him now.”

Smith, who will also be leaving the island next month, confirmed that Bridger is no longer employed as the SPIT Senior Investigating Officer and it is understood he left this island yesterday. Smith said Anne Lawrence from the UK Metropolitan Police, who was previously Bridger’s deputy, has taken over as leader of SPIT. “SIO Lawrence has been on island since January and is well placed to oversee this enquiry,” he said, adding that he would continue to oversee Operation Cealt.

So far, the actions of Bridger and Operation Tempura have cost the Cayman Treasury in excess of $6 million. However, with Kernohan poised to take legal action for wrongful dismissal, Burmon Scott having filed a claim, John Jones’ situation still outstanding, Lyndon Martin and Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon’s legal cases still to be heard, the costs to the Cayman public purse continues to increase. The auditor general’s office is currently conducting a value for money audit on the work of SPIT. CNS recently revealed that Bridger had spent more than $½ million of public money on legal advisors and attorneys alone, to defend his arrest and searches of Grand Court Judge Alex Henderson who was arrested for a non-arrestable offence.

There are also a number of concerns regarding the behaviour of Bridger during his investigation, cited by Sir Peter Cresswell the presiding Judge in the judicial review regarding Henderson’s case. Kernohan’s attorneys have also pointed out that the withholding of the Chief Justice’s rulings regarding the denial of the warrant requests, which was critical information exonerating in part Kernohan, constituted malice.

Kernohan’s spokesperson Legge noted that the question arises as to why the Governor, upon reading the Chief Justice’s ruling, did not immediately re-instate Kernohan to his post. He said instead, Governor Jack and SIO Bridger, with the knowledge that no criminal offense had taken place, began to explore the lesser common law offense of “misconduct in public office,” a decision which allowed Bridger to extend his stay in the Cayman Islands for many more months along with an expenditure of untold additional public funds, Legge noted.

During the investigation Kernohan left the Cayman Islands to be with his father, who was terminally ill in the UK. Following his departure and the passing of his father, Jack ordered Kernohan to return to Grand Cayman. However, Kernohan, through his attorneys, refused, contending this Governor had no authority or power under law to order him to return, since he had not beencharged with any crime or been placed under “house arrest.” On numerous occasions Kernohan’s attorneys reportedly asked Governor Jack’s counsel to cite in law where the Governor had lawful authority to restrict Kernohan’s travel or residence and according to today’s statement from Kernohan no legal basis for the demanding his to return to Cayman has been forthcoming.

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Campbell earns two MVPs

| 01/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): With a winning attitude and the athletic ability to match, Scimone Campbell is a coach’s dream player. The stats tell the real story for Campbell, who took the MVP title for the regular season in the Cayman Islands Basketball Association’s Women’s League. Campbell earned 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and 5 steals per game. She also collected the MVP award for the All Star game. A release from the CIBA said Campbell’s performance was all the more remarkable as her team, the Silver Bullets, won only one game during the season. (Photos by Tara Bush)

Nevertheless, she says she is proud of her team and that she could not have won the award without the help of her team-mates.

“My team was awesome. Despite only winning one game, we never gave up. My team-mates were always enthusiastic at every game and encouraged me to persevere. Towards the end of the season, everyone showed great improvement overall,” she stated.

The 32 year-old mother of two is a teacher at Bodden Town Primary. She began playing basketball in 1994 because she, along with best friend Bobeth O’Garro, thought it would be great to learn to play a new sport.

Campbell took up her new sport at age 17, while also involved in football. In fact, she was an accomplished football player and was at one time a member of the national team.

Like most players this year, Campbell did not set out to be a stat leader or win an award. She just wanted to stay fit, be a part of a team and relieve some stress along the way, she says. But her natural ability shone through the entire season and today she is enjoying the reward of earning both titles.

“I’ve been inactive for a bit because I was out for the previous season. I know that both teams supported me very well and we fought really hard during the season,” she said.

Campbell said she recommends basketball to anyone thinking about taking up a sport, because it has taught her the value of teamwork, which has transferred to other areas of her life.

“I am a much better team player at home and at work. Basketball also provides me the opportunity to go to many places I would not normally have visited. It has allowed me to experience new things and meet new people. In this stressful life, it also provides anavenue to vent,” she noted.

Silver Bullets coach Daniel Augustine said it was a privilege coaching someone like Scimone Campbell. One of her roles was to be a leader to the younger players on our team, which she did with dedication and grace. She also took over the position of point guard which was a new role for her and again her talent shone through, he said. “She is a hard worker and the fact that she was success was a testament to her efforts,” he added.

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CUC Meet next weekend

| 01/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Athletic Association will be hosting the annual CUC Age Group Championships which will be held over two days starting on Friday, 8 May, at 5pm and continuing on Saturday, 9 May, at 9:00am at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. A release from CIAA said the CUC Meet will include some of Cayman’s top local athletes and serves as a qualifier for international meets, such as the Island Games, CAC Senior Championships and the Caribbean Games which take place during the months of June and July 2009. Caribbean Utilities Company has sponsored this meet for over two decades and representatives will be on hand to present the awards.

Included as a part of the CUC Meet, will be trials for CAC Age Group Championships and participants must compete in all events in their age group to be considered for the CAC Age Group team. Competition will be held in 11 -12 and 13 – 14 age groups both male and female. The top two (2) qualifiers from each category will represent the Cayman Islands at this competition which will be held in Freeport, Bahamas June 18 & 19.

The events being contested are as follows:

FIELD EVENTS AGE GROUPS
LONG JUMP M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
HIGH JUMP M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
SHOT PUT M/F 13 – 14, 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
BALL THROW M/F 11 – 12, 13 – 14
DISCUS M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
JAVELIN M/F 15 – 16, 17 & OVER

RUNNING EVENTS AGE GROUP
60M HUR F 13 – 14
80M HUR M 13 – 14
400M HUR M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
100M HUR M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
60M M/F 11 – 12
80M M/F 13 – 14
100M M/F 15 – 16, 17 & OVER
800M F 11 -12
800M M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
400M M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
200M M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER
1000M 11 – 12 (Boys), 13 -14 (Girls)
1200M M 13 -14
1500M M/F 15 -16, 17 & OVER

Registration is open to ages 11 and above and forms are available at schools, the CIAA’s office at the Sports Complex or by contacting Coach Williams at 323-0163, Coach Yen at 925-6917 or Coach Wason at 916-6966. Registration closes at 6:00pm on Thursday May 7th 2009.

The pubic is invited to come out and show their support.
 

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Tax evasion unacceptable

| 01/05/2009 | 0 Comments

(Global Connections):   With aid budgets under pressure amid the global economic crisis, governments are looking to tax systems as a new frontier for development policies. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría explains why a solid tax base is critical for long-term financial stability………Spurred on by the G20, governments and financial centers around the world have come forward with pledges to open up bank records to foreign tax investigators. The message could not be clearer: Aiding tax evasion is no longer acceptable. For scores of tax havens, it’s time to reform.

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Suspect flu cases to report to CI Hospital

| 01/05/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Although there are still no reported cases of swine flu in the Cayman Islands, Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar is advising anyone who develops flu-like symptoms, such as a fever with cough, sore throat or cold, within seven days of returning from any swine flu-affected area to report to the Accident and Emergency Unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital. He also said people with those symptoms who have been in close contact with any confirmed case of swine flu should also attend the hospital.

Dr. Kumar said that hospital staff are ready to receive these patients as a priority and hand sanitizer and masks are provided outside Accident & Emergency. Patients should clean their hands, place a mask over their face and then proceed directly inside to the Triage Desk for assessment if it is a suspected case and appropriate care.

 “Asking those suspected of having the flu to wear masks is an effective way of reducing the spread of the virus. We are not currently recommending masks to everyone, as they are not effective in keeping healthy people from getting sick in the community. Masks are useful in preventing infected persons from transmitting the virus to others,” Dr Kumar added.

The Public Health Department has also advised private practitioners and the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital of the procedures now in place and this is a national health response.

Swine flu symptoms in people are similar to those of seasonal flu and include fever with cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

“The World Health Organisation has decided yesterday to change the name of the swine flu virus to Influenza A (H1N1). However, these two names will be used interchangeably for some time,” Dr Kumar explained.

According to the latest global reports and WHO officials the flu has now reached 12 countries on three continents, killing fewer people than past pandemics. Hong Kong confirmed a flu case today, the first in Asia and laboratory tests have verified that more than 331 people in North America, Europe and New Zealand have the strain, according to the World Health Organization’s Web site. Hundreds more cases are suspected in the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Australia.

The Geneva-based WHO raised its six-tier alert to 5 on April 29 and may move soon to the next and final level, declaring the world’s first influenza pandemic since 1968. WHO urged countries to make final preparations against the disease. Evidence suggests that “transmission is widespread, and that less severe illness is common,” the Atlanta-based CDC has said.

For more information on swine flu go to www.hsa.ky or www.CaymanPrepared.ky

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Tourism stats spiral down

| 01/05/2009 | 13 Comments

(CNS): According to the arrival statistics for March, visitors to Cayman continue to decline.  Air arrivals for the first quarter 2009 were down 14% over the same period in 2008 and cruise arrivals were down 15.9% for the same period.  In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, Charles Clifford, the Minister for Tourism, said aside from the global recession, the diminished room stock was to blame. He said reports that have quoted Cayman as being the fifth worst hit destination in the Caribbean were based on reports covering only 12 out of 34 countries, and while Jamaica, Cuba and Cancun, Mexico were enjoying a modest increase in arrivals it was because they were selling cheap.

Clifford said those destinaitons offered an all-inclusive product, which he said was attractive to today’s budget conscious travelers from the US, Canada, and Europe, but Cayman remained an attractive choice. "Up until fourth quarter 2008, Cayman showed record air arrivals, demonstrating that this period of uncertainty is not characteristic of our attractiveness as a tourist destination,” the Minister added, saying the Department of Tourism was working in partnership with the private sector to address the downturn. Another reason for the reverse in numbers is the diminished room stock. The tourism industry in Cayman Brac was shut down for six months and one of our major hotels here closed because of hurricane damage from Hurricane Paloma.” He did not say, however, how that related to the almost 16% decline in cruise arrivals. Moreover, the idea that the Courtyard Marriot has been closed for six months owing to damage from Paloma has been brought into considerable question.

The minister also noted that the swine flu issue could also negatively affect visitor numbers, adding another challenge eroding consumer confidence. This happened previously with SARS and impact was felt worldwide,” he said.

He said, however, that the latest Survey of Affluence & Wealth in America produced by American Express Publishing and Harrison Group said vacation spending is poised to be one of the first categories to rebound after the global economic crisis and the Cayman Islands is one of the top five Caribbean destinations visited amongst this target demographic, and in the top 19 destinations worldwide.

He said that promotions were gaining a significant role in the current economic environment, as the affluent consumer is still looking for quality, but wants better deals. “Private sector partner promotions such as the Westin Summer Spectacular, where rooms are priced starting at $159, will help to see us through this difficult period,” he added.

He said Cayman had some compelling summer offers including Cayman Summer Splash, Kids Fly Free and Skate Cayman.We are confident that the promotions and programmes in place will see us through this difficult period,” he added.

Trina Christian, Executive Director of CITA said she had met with representatives from the various Tourism Associations from over 20 different Caribbean destinations and those who reported an increase in arrivals also experiencing a significant decrease in revenues. The average daily room rate is down and the visitor spend once there has decreased, she said. “Customers are demanding extremely low rates and some destinations have chosen to ‘give away’ vacations in order to keep traffic flowing. This can be extremely damaging to a destination and the Cayman Islands is cautious not to over discount.

She said CITA is focusing all efforts on informing members of the opportunities that are out there for them to maximize their business. “One of the latest initiatives is the Staycation promotion that is being launched in May with the support of the Ministry of Tourism. The tactic is designed to maximize the on-island spend during these slower times and to offer an affordable vacation solution for local residents who deserve a vacation but may not want to leave the country.

Clifford said 2009 is not business as usual but the Ministry and Department of Tourism and the private sector’s strategy is to seek to preserve the integrity of our brand while dealing with the immediacy of the situation.

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Mac vows to rescue CAL

| 01/05/2009 | 63 Comments

(CNS): The country’s National Flag Carrier, Cayman Airways may have haemorrhaged some $90 million during the last four years, the Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush said last night when he promised to turn the airline around if the people voted for him and his team the United Democratic Party on 20 May. He said it would be hard after four years of mismanagement but they could do it. He also said he would deal with Boatswain Beach and make that more successful too.

 

Speaking at the very last Chamber Candidates District Forum in West Bay last night (Thursday 30 April) the Leader of the UDP said that when he was in government he had set the subsidy for Cayman Airways at a specific amount each year and kept the deficit down. Since he had been in opposition he said despite his efforts he had not been able to get the government to reveal exactly how much they had given to CAL in the way of subsidies.

“We have tried very hard to get the figures… but they wouldn’t tell us anything…. but we found out that…since June 2005…its been something like $90 million in losses. It is only mismanagement that made that happen. We will have to work hard again to turn that around but it can be done,” He said adding that the country had to maintain Cayman Airways.

He also said Boatswain Beach can work and that the figures by the financial experts revealed that it could be a successful attraction. He said he intended to work with private sector partners to make it more so. Bush explained that the facility had been tied in with the plan to build a cruise jetty in West Bay which he said the cruise industry had agreed with and contributed some $8 million. He said they had supported it because it would have put the passengers right by the farm. “If we are going to have cruise visitors here it should benefit our Boatswain Beach,” he said. “You elect the UDP and it will be come successful.”

All of Mckeeva Bush’s fellow candidates appearing on the same platform agreed that Cayman Airlines needs to be protected. His UDP colleague Cline Glidden explained that Cayman either subsidizes its own airline or a foreign one and if the country is going to continue in the tourism industry it was needed as a major partner. Glidden also stated that Boatswain Beach was created as a world class attraction and its problems were down to mismanagement as its financial position couldn’t be that bad given the significant salary advances that had been given recently, he said.

Bernie Bush an independent candidate said he had always supported Cayman Airways but was concerned over the growing losses and noted that there was a need to see the audited accounts. “Looking from the outside there is a lot of belt tightening that could go on and I don’t think the management have been listening to its own staff.”  

Henry Morgan also running as independent in the district said he didn’t know how much it was subsidized but he felt it should be supported by the locals.

During the much anticipated debate featuring the Leader of the Opposition the candidates discussed job creation, unemployment, fiscal management, gambling, (which no one supported), West Bay’s issues, development of small business, which McKeeva said would benefit from reduce duty, rollover, tourism and the proposed port development. The UDP candidates both stated that they supported the development of cruise birth facilities but not the plans to redevelop the cargo facilities in George Town but did say where that facility should be moved.

When asked about the constitution McKeeva Bush would not offer his own position despite being part of the negotiating team. He restated the UDP’s position that it is a matter of conscience and would accept the people’s decision. “While I agree with many aspects there are areas that I am not satisfied with and areas that will not do anything for these islands,” he said adding the constitution would not put a job in anybody’s hands and it was only going to be as good as those elected to run a government under it. Glidden however said that he felt he was able to support it especially as the UDP had been able to restrict some of the early proposals which would have given too much political control to government during the negotiations.

Bernie Bush who had been involved in the early days with the constitution and he said he would be happy to support it. A deciding factor for him he said was the support of the Cayman Ministers Association and the felt it made provisions to protect Caymanians.  Morgan said he had some problems with it and was not sure he agreed so wouldn’t be able to vote yes but he did not explain his concerns.

When it came to addressing perceptions about Cayman’s Financial Services industry overseas McKeeva Bush said that the current administration had failed to promote the Cayman Islands on the global stage and neglected the industry and the private sector had been forced to tackle the public relations position themselves. He said a UDP Government would work hard to improve the situation and work hard to help the world understand what we do the biggest issue he said was putting back the lobbyists that the government had sacked.

Bernie Bush agreed with his namesake and noted that the lobbyists needed to be re-instated. He also said that in recent conversations with a senior figure in the industry he had been told that eh and other professionals in the sector had experienced difficulty getting to meet with government to express their concerns.

Whenit come to the four candidates closing statements McKeeva warned that the country needed a united force in government after the election and while the UDP cold work with anyone the voters needed to elect a government with a plan and that was the UDP.

“We have been asked whether we will work with whomever is elected and I say of course we will. We must work with whomever the people select as their representatives if we are there in the legislature. Nevertheless, the country is in a position today where we must have a clear plan that has been discussed, a plan that has been refined and a plan that has been agreed upon prior to an election. If this is not so there will be unnecessary bickering, fault-finding and politicking,” he said. Using his experience as a veteran politician to steer the voters away from the independents Bush warned that any delay in forming government would be detrimental to the electorate. He said there needed to be unity and harmony in the Legislative Assembly and that could not happen with people who did not know what they were going to do when they got there.

 

 

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UDP’s Ambassador for Jesus

| 01/05/2009 | 118 Comments

(CNS): At a public meeting in Spot Bay, Sister Islands MLA Juliana O’Connor-Connolly criticized the current PPM government for passing a new Education Law rather than the simply amending the old one, and indicated that their motive for doing so was so that they could remove the clause that enshrined religious education. She also warned her supporters that there was a Muslim teacher at the Cayman Brac High School and “at least one” who was an atheist, and asked, “Do you think they’re going to be teaching your children religious worship and instruction?”

Though the bill had been circulated for comment some four months before being tabled in the House, O’Connor-Connolly said that not getting a flightso that she could be in the Legislative Assembly for the passing of the bill gave her time to read it through many times to make sure there was no reference to the section that enshrined religious instruction in law.

Dismissing the counter argument that it was covered in the National Curriculum, O’Connor-Connolly, who at a recent Chamber forum on the Brac suggested education as an area that she would like to take on in a Cabinet position, asked, “What will happen when we get a Minister of Education who does not believe in God?”

Calling the sequence of events “a parliamentary miracle", she said that her version of how the word “religion” was added into the law was fully documented. She said, “Rather than take the traditional method of amending the Education Law, which was working good, those same ministers was educated under that law … and your children went through that system, because they had good parents who cared about their future, because they had good teachers who cared about the children, and because we were still a land where the fear of God was present.”

Urging people to talk to their children about what they were learning at school, she said, “There is at least one teacher who is a Muslim right here at the Cayman Brac High School, and that is her religious right, but when they do assembly – because we come from a Christian background – she refuses to close her eyes or to have our traditional reverence.” She told those gathered that this teacher had explained to her class why she was a Muslim.

“Listen carefully,” O’Connor-Connolly went on, “there’s another one, I’m reliably informed, who isan atheist. Do you think they’re going to be teaching your children religious worship and instruction?” She said, “They didn’t just show up in our education system. They had to be interviewed. They had to be hired.”

The UDP incumbent said, “This is not a popular topic. It’s one that easily can be blown out of proportion, but when it comes to standing for God Almighty, I made my choice a long time ago and I’ve gone too far to turn back now, and when you’re ready for a representative who does not believe in God, then don’t vote for Juliana.” She said that her constituents could go to bed knowing that they won’t hear that she’s been arrested or that she was in Northward.

While not commenting further about the content of the Education Law or any of the changes that have taken place within the education system, O’Connor-Connolly also criticized the money spent on expensive schools saying it was mortgaging our children’s future and that the successful people of today did not learn in elaborate classrooms.

At the meeting, O’Connor-Connolly, who is running for her fourth term and was the first female Cabinet member, also emphasized experience as MLA and as minister. “I have met challenges,” she said. “We need representatives who can think on their feet,” she said.

Speaking of the UDP, she said “As a lawyer I know what it is to be an integral part of that team.” She said the last budget the LoGB – biggest capital budget ever

When the UDP votes money for the Brac, it is not later taken away and given to Grand Cayman, said the MLA, and she bemoaned the cuts for the Brac in the Supplementary Expenditure, dismissing the excuse that the Brac had had additional funds for the Paloma recovery. O’Connor-Connolly noted the rising cost of living on the Brac in terms of groceries, electricity and spoke out against suggestions that civil servants should pay towards health insurance.

“We don’t want to live in fear, especially as we get older,” she said, and several times reminded people that she and the UDP had increased the ex-gratia payments to seamen and veterans and said they would do everything in their power to raise it to $800 per month.

She also criticized the national debt, forced retirement at age 55 to 60,a dn said that the affordable housing initiative on the Brac had been started under the UDFP who had left $800,000 in the budget for its development, since when only four houses had been built.

To boost the economy of the Brac she suggested moving the maintenance department of Cayman Airways Express to the island, which among other benefits would improve the air ambulance service. Alternatively, she suggested support for Dr Charles Reid’s private medical air-evacuation proposal.

She said she had been criticized for paving certain roads when she was minister. “Well, you remember whose roads used to be paved before you elected Juliana O’Connor Connolly?” she asked, and claimed she was a representative for all the people and an “ambassador for Jesus Christ”.

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Cayman pigs appear virus free as testing continues

| 01/05/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Following the activation of Cayman’s Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan in response to the possible pandemic of swine flu, local agriculture officials said they are taking precautionary steps with regard to the local pig population. Director of Agriculture Adrian Estwick said that his department’s veterinary staff members have already tested more than 300 local swine for the presence of the Influenza A virus. “The survey is not yet complete, but reports thus far are negative for the presence of this virus,” he added.

 

Although there have been no incidences of swine flu in the Cayman Islands and the WHO has said the virus is stabilizing, as well as early reports from the UK suggesting it is not as potent as first believed, Cayman is continuing with full precautions to mitigate any possible negative impact on the islands.

Estwick explained that the DoA is unable to test locally for the specific virus that causes swine flu. But if any positive Influenza A samples are found they will be sent to the US for further testing. “To date, there are no reports of flu-like viruses in the local pig population and we would like to keep it that way,” he said. In the interim, the department is considering imposing a temporary restriction on the importation of live pigs. However, live pig importation into the Cayman Islands is rare, the last occurrence being in December 1998. For artificial insemination purposes, semen was last imported in May 2005.

Estwick also said that eating pork will not cause consumers to be infected: “There is no evidence of swine influenza being transmitted by meat,” he said echoing the sentiments of the Public Health director Dr Kiran Kumar who said that once meat is cooked if the virus was there it would be destroyed.  A letter received from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Caribbean Basin Agricultural Trade Office Director Sarah Hanson also confirmed this and advised that pork and pork products remain safe for human consumption. Her letter also stated that there have been no reports of Influenza A H1N1 occurring in swine in the United States.

For additional information on swine flu, visit the Centre for Disease Control website link – http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/key_facts.htm

 

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Prisoner charged with murder

| 01/05/2009 | 24 Comments

(CNS): More than three weeks after his arrest, police say they have now charged 38-year-old Randy Lebert Martin with the murder of Sabrina Schirn. Charged on Thursday, 30 April, with one count of murder, Martin will appear before the Magistrate’s Court today (Friday 1 May). RCIPS detectives had arrested Martin in connection with the brutal murder of 21-year old Schirn, whose body was found in East End near the prison farm on 17 March. Martin, who is serving a seven year sentence at Northward Prison was charged by the Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Kim Evans.

Sabrina’s body was found in bush land off High Rock Road, East End by her friends and family following the discovery of the car she had last been seen driving a few days before, by a local farmer, less than a mile away. Police said that Schirn’s family has been informed of the charges against Martin.

“The RCIPS understands the public interest in this case, however now that it is subject to court proceedings, the Service will not be making any further public comment,” the RCIPS said in a statement. “This is to avoid prejudicing the case and being in contempt of court.”

Since Sabrina was first reported missing the police have been severely criticized for the handling of the case. Speculation that a prisoner on the work release programme at the Wilderness Farm had committed the murder began even before Schirn’s body was discovered. The family and friends of the murdered girl have been vociferous in their condemnation of the way the investigaiton was handled.

So far, there have been no resignations from any senior staff at the prison and no details have been released concerning any enquiries that have been conducted explaining how a prisoner could have committed murder while supposedly working on the farmer under supervision.

In an effort at damage limitation during a pres conference, where both the RCIPS and the Prison Service admitted that a Northward inmate had been arrested, Commissioner for Corrections Dr William Rattray said that the accused, who had at the time not been publically named, was a low risk prisoner.

Police have not yet revealed whether they believe Martin could have been abetted or if they  think he actedalone.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling Crime Stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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