Archive for December 1st, 2009

Male circumcision helps Africa fight AIDS

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(GlobalPost): Even though everyone on Mfangano Island, Kenya, seems to have memorized the catchphrases of AIDS prevention — “Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms” — those messages haven’t had much impact. About 21% of people on this island are infected with HIV, three times the national rate of 7%. Now NGO-workers are offering fishermen like Gabari a new prevention tool: circumcision. The link between circumcision and reduced HIV susceptibility has been suspected since the mid-1980s, when AIDS researchers observed that circumcised Kenyan men who engaged with prostitutes were less likely to get infected.

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Ganja was grown on farm

| 01/12/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A prison officer has revealed that inmates were cultivating their own ganja plants at HMP Northward’s agricultural facility, Wilderness Farm. Marlon Dehany told the Grand Court on Monday that he had found more than 23 plants that prisonerswere growing among the more lawful produce of cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables. One of two officers supervising the prisoners at the farm on the day the prosecution believes Sabrina Schirn was murdered, Dehany said that, aside from growing the drug, inmates were also receiving ganjaat the location from people on the outside.

Testifying in the trial of Randy Martin for the murder of 21-year old Schirn, the prison officer confirmed that the prison farm was a place where illegal contraband, including drugs and phones, was often hidden for prisoners to collect. Dehany also told the court that in April 2008 he had caught Martin attempting to recover a mobile phone and ganja hidden in a dry stone wall on the prison farm property.

As one of two officers on duty at the farm on 11 March 2009, Dehany said that Martin was behaving suspiciously throughout that day and he was convinced he “was up to something”. He said the prisoner was out of his sight on a number of occasions for up to 45 minutes, as he said that Martin had asked to go relieve himself in the bushes at least twice.

Recounting the events of that day, Dehany told the court that Martin had been assigned to the tomato patch that morning when the prisoners arrived at the farm. Dehany said that during the course of the morning Martin made a comment that he would be spending the day weeding in that area and would not be going to other parts of the property. However, the prison officer recalled how Martin had approached him holding toilet paper and indicated he would be heading towards the bottom of the property to the bushes.

Dehany said that it was his job that day to prepare the meal for the inmates working on the farm and as a result he was working in the kitchen for much of the morning, with the prisoners out of his sight. After lunch he noticed that Martin had gone missing and recruited his fellow officer to help find him. He said they had spotted Martin striding off across the property and went after him. Dehany said that Martin was carrying a black bag but when they came upon him he no longer had it. Asked what he had been doing, Martin reportedly owned up to sneaking off to smoke weed, which he said had been dropped off earlier in the day.

Following Martin’s admission, Dehany and his fellow officer, Greg Hunter, sent him back to the prison farm house while they set about searching the area. Dehany said he called the prison security and asked them to come and lock down the farm and send an official search crew, but it never happened.

The prison officer then told the court that a few days later he had discovered two coffee bottles buried in the area that contained weed residue, a white sock and a mobile phone and charger. He said he had read a text message on the phone that contained the name Randy Martin. After finding the coffee bottles he explained how he had re-buried them in order to wait and see if Martin would try and recover them when he returned to the farm. In the interim, however, Dehany said he was informed that Martin had been taken off prison detail, so he went and recovered the items and later handed them to prison management.

Dehany’s testimony was then contradicted in part by his fellow officer, Greg Hunter, who said it was he who cooked that day. He also said that Martin had been in his sight all morning, bar the ten minutes or so when he says Martin had indicated to him that he was going the bathroom in the bushes. The two prison officers gave conflicting accounts of what Martin was wearing and Hunter also said he did not see Martin carrying anything when the two officers followed him after lunch.

The two men did agree, however,  that the prison farm was an area where the inmates would pick up drugs and reportedly meet with girlfriends, as the 250-acre site was too big for just twoguards to supervise, especially when one was also expected to cook the lunch for the farm detail.

During cross examination by defence counsel, Dehany said that when he had found the first phone allegedly belonging to Randy Martin in April 2008, he had discovered that the prison head of security’s number was stored in its numbers listings. Dehany testified, under oath, that Martin had also told him that the senior prison officer had sent Martin to the farm to observe his (Dehany’s) movements, as he said Mr Hudson suspected Dehany was the one supplying ganja to the inmates —  a charge which Dehany denied to the court.

Amidst confusing and conflicting testimony from the two prison officers, the judge, Justice Charles Quin, who is trying the case in the absence of a jury, asked a number of probing questions regarding the layout of the farm and the details of where the prisoners worked.

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Joey to face grilling on cash

| 01/12/2009 | 17 Comments

(CNS): The former managing director of Boatswain’s Beach is to face questions this week over a cash payment of more than $50,000 he made to the facility to pay back an outstanding loan when he resigned in order to run for political office in May of this year. Last week, the Public Accounts Committee raised concerns that, following his resignations and the revelations about the unauthorized borrowing he had made from the farm, Joey Ebanks had eventually paid back his substantial debt in cash with no questions asked.  Following a summons issued at the last PAC meeting, Ebanks has reportedly confirmed his appearance this Thursday when members are expected to grill the former farm MD on the source of that mystery cash.

All major cash payments in the Cayman Islands are subject to scrutiny as a result of international anti-money laundering agreements, but Ebanks’ repayment was banked by farm management as ‘business operations’. Despite the fact that the farm would generally, at that time of year, only bank a few thousand dollars per day, the Boatswain’s Beach senior accountant told the PAC last week that, when Ebanks came to the office with $50,000 in cash, the acting manager director simply took the money from him and paid it into the bank and stated on the anti-money laundering declaration that it was business takings.

The farm CFO said that no questions were asked of Ebanks about how he had suddenly come up with more than $50,000 to pay his debt in full, after spending some 18 months borrowing every month from Boatswain Beach against his salary, getting deeper and deeper into debt.

Following his resignation, the full extent of Ebanks’ debt was revealed and, according to the senior accountant, a few weeks later he paid back the entire outstanding sum. Relieved to get the cash back, the CFO said that they had taken the money and deposited it straight into the Turtle Farm’s bank account. Although the farm had reportedly talked with the financial reporting authority, they were told that unless they had reason to be suspicious there was no need for them to report the cash sum.

The CFO admitted that, when the farm had filled in the anti-money laundering declaration at the bank, they had not given a full account of the source of the money, merely stating it was business operations. The bank in turn also asked no questions, he said, despite the considerable increase in the sum paid to the bank by comparison to their normal deposits.

The details of Ebank’s cash delivery were all revealed when the PAC questioned the chair of the Turtle Farm board and the CFO regarding the auditor general’s recent report on the unauthorized loans and advances taken by Ebanks during his time there. The former MD had been expected at the hearing on 25 November but he reportedly told the Legislative Assembly’s Serjeant-at-Arms that he was not coming. The committee then decide to issue an official summons to Ebanks to compel him to testify before PAC on Thursday. The chair of the committee, Ezzard Miller, said that if Ebanks failed to appear this week the committee could report to the  Legislative Assembly for sanctions against Ebanks, which could even include imprisonment.

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