Archive for April 17th, 2013

Cops search for missing fishermen aboard canoe

| 17/04/2013 | 56 Comments

EBANKS James Michael .jpg(CNS): Updated Wednesday 9:30am — Three local men who had been missing for nine days after taking off on a fishing trip have been found safe and well and the international search effort has been called off. Police said the men and their canoe was spotted about a mile and a half off Kaibo earlier this morning (Wednesday) by the crew of a private fishing vessel. The Joint Marine Unit was deployed just before 8:00am and transported the men back to shore. They were met by an ambulance crew and will undergo medical checks. The RCIPS have been liaising with law enforcement and search and rescue personnel in the United States and in Jamaica following the report of the missing men, which was made to local police at the weekend.

James Michael Ebanks (above), Alton Phillips (below left) and Lyndon Banks (below right) left the West Bay area in a 32-foot canoe on Monday 8 April. According to family members, the men often stay out fishing for three to four days but when they had neither returned nor been in contact with family or friends by Saturday 13 April, a family member contacted the police.

BANKS Lyndon  (1).JPGPHILLIPS Alton  (1).JPGThe police said it was not clear where the three fishermen had gone to fish but the RCIPS Air Operations and Marine Units carried out air and sea searches looking for the men or their blue and white canoe. James Ebanks was previously reported missing last year when he and two other men left Grand Cayman in a canoe heading for Jamaica on 19 August. The men and their canoe were eventually traced on 31 August off Frank Sound.     

Anyone who may have any information which could assist the police is asked to contact George Town police station on 949-4222 or the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777.

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Opposition to launch national campaign in GT

| 17/04/2013 | 60 Comments

alden.jpg(CNS): Although the opposition party has been hard at work on the streets of Cayman over the last few months, the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), or the Progressives as they are now calling themselves since the party re-brand, will be launching their national election campaign tonight in Grand Harbour. With exactly five weeks to go before Cayman goes to the polls to elect its next government, the opposition is hoping that the people of Cayman will see that it is not party politics that is at fault but the United Democratic Party. With fifteen candidates on its platform, the Progressives will need to return just ten to secure a majority government.

However, even a poor showing for the party of just 8 candidates being returned is likely to give them the reins of power, provided their former member, Arden McLean (EE), and more recent ally, Ezzard Miller (NS), in the eastern districts stick with them. If all goes well, the party has a very good chance at taking most of the seats it is contesting outside of West Bay, where the outcome remainsanyone’s guess. However, it appears likely that, despite the criminal charges laid against him and the public split with his former district colleagues, McKeeva Bush will carry all four seats for the UDP.

Despite the criticisms that the PPM has received for over spending and indecision during its 2005-2009 administration, the party leadership is able to point very clearly to where the money was spent and why. During the next five weeks the campaign is likely to concentrate on honesty and transparency in government, which the PPM says was the hallmark of its administration.

Launching on a platform promise of bringing good jobs to Cayman, building better communities and restoring Caymanian pride in the government and the country, the party will be hoping for an impressive turnout. Party leader Alden McLaughlin said he would be calling on all voters tonight to help make Cayman a Progressive country on 22 May.

“These upcoming elections are, without a doubt, the most crucial the Cayman Islands have ever faced,” he said. “The past four years of failed UDP control, not leadership, have been a period of grave concern and uncertainty for Cayman. The UDP administration has overseen a period in Cayman history like none we have ever known and one that we all wish fervently to bring to an end.”

Moses Kirkconnell, the party’s deputy leader, said it was time to look towards the future. “The Progressives have put together a strong group of candidates, who bring a wealth of experience from business to tourism and hospitality and education and government – because that is what is going to form the best Legislative Assembly for Cayman,” he added.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help the Progressives elected next month is asked to contact the PPM headquarters on 945-1776 or at 488 Crewe Road, George Town.

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Cayman health officials eye new Chinese bird flu

| 17/04/2013 | 0 Comments

(china-H7N9 (293x300).jpgCNS): Local health officials said this week that they are on alert and monitoring an outbreak of a new type of bird flu in China. The A (H7N9) has caused severe disease there with the WHO reporting 63 cases laboratory-confirmed including 14 deaths. More than a thousand close contacts of the confirmed cases are also being closely monitored. The source and mode of transmission are still unknown and until these are identified further human cases of infection are expected in China. Officials said the risk of international disease spread is considered to be low and as yet no human to human transmissions have occurred but investigations into a possible family cluster are on-going.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no need for any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the current information or any need for special screening at points of entry. Nevertheless the local Public Health Department is in touch with PAHO/WHO and the Public Health England while health care workers are on alert.

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Something Rotten in the State of Cayman…

| 17/04/2013 | 23 Comments

“May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse, bestowed in the most inscrutable and understated manner in which the Chinese excel. In the case of the Cayman Islands, and for that matter the wider world, we are indeed living in interesting times. Here in Cayman, the former premier McKeeva Bush is most certainly living in interesting times, and one suspects that others may well be keeping a wary eye over their shoulder, lest their times become equally as interesting.

Many may be applauding the work done by RCIPS and, if rumour be believed, others in bringing about this state of affairs, but what of the Custodians themselves? Are their affairs in order, or are they also about to find themselves “Living in interesting times”?

This question begs asking because of the growing number of issues being highlighted by media, public and the Custodians themselves. As has already been highlighted in recent media publications, there is the ever rumbling issues surrounding Operation Tempura, the more recent case of the demoted inspector, and the as yet unresolved case of the junior officer alleging an assault against himself by a more senior officer. These three issues alone would suffice to bring about immense scrutiny of the Custodians in any other democratic society, but they are in effect only the tip of a very large iceberg.

There is the matter of the Police Law, gazetted in 2010, which makes requirements of the Custodians to put in place ‘rules of practice and conduct’ which would govern how they interact with the public they serve. These ‘rules’ have yet to make an appearance over two years down the line. As a result, cases will come before the Grand Court under the Bill of Rights questioning the treatment that persons have had from the Custodians. One can only wonder how this correlates with the UK, who coincidentally are signatories to a European Code of Police Ethics, and are required to abide by a very strict set of rules under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Could it be that these are merely unfortunate coincidences? Events that conspire to happen within a fairly short time period. Or is there something more insidious lurking beneath the smart uniformed exterior?

If one takes the time to speak to some of the many officers who take on the mantle of Custodian of the Peace, one rapidly realises that there are three distinctcultures thriving and striving within the service. There are the local Caymanian officers, many of whom feel let down and neglected by a service that sees them as a necessity, occasionally promoting one or two into positions of prominence to appear supportive and egalitarian. There are the officers from the other Caribbean jurisdictions, mainly Jamaica, who seem to suffer the brunt of the ‘strangers in a strange land' jibes from both Caymanian and British expat officers.

Finally, there are the British ex-pat officers, who themselves are a bit of a mixed bunch. There are those who have come to work hard and make a life for themselves (many of whom also suffer the same jibes as the Jamaican officers), those who view the job as an extended holiday in the sun with the added bonus of ticking that box in the CV, and those that have come to build their own little empires in the sun. The common trait amongst these is the general arrogance unique to the British of “Knowing what is best”.

This ‘three cultured nightmare’ is at the heart of what ails our Custodians. A continuous clash of culture and political brinkmanship played out within an organisation that should work as a team.

The most insidious and dangerous of these groups are the ‘Empire Builders’. Many of whom have come with a policing attitude born out of the 1970’s and 80’s in the United Kingdom; hierarchical, authoritarian and motivated to build their empire into their own image, with scant regard to the vibrant local culture and traditions because, after all, they “know what’s best”. These are the people who seem to be pulling strings and manipulating people and events to suit their own ends, and in so doing, are spreading disenfranchisement and disenchantment amongst our Custodians.

With election fever about to break out large here in Cayman, and with the very real prospect of new faces in the Legislative Assembly, perhaps the one question that should be being asked by all and sundry is “Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?" Or, as the English might say, “Who watches the watchmen?”

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Mac used CIG card in casinos

| 17/04/2013 | 0 Comments

atm_2.jpg(CNS): Despite claims by McKeeva Bush since he was arrested that the case against him was about dry cleaning bills and books he bought on a government credit card, court documents reveal that the former premier is accused of using that credit card to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash from casinos. According to the charges now filed with the courts, the UDP leader is accused of making cash withdrawals from casinos in the United States on several occasions during his first year in office. The charge sheet states that Bush withdrew more than $50,000 on at least four occasions between July 2009 and April 2010. 

The charge sheets suggest that Bush abused his office, breached the people's trust and stole thousands of dollars on a Royal Bank of Canada government credit card, which had been issued to him to use in his role as the country’s leader on government business. The documents do not state where the casinos were other than being in the United States and indicate that Bush made cash withdrawals presumably from ATMs.

The charges against Bush were transmitted into the Grand Court on Friday after the former premier and leader of the UDP, who is fighting the forthcoming election and hoping to be returned for an eighth time for the district of West Bay, appeared in court for the first time.

The man who was the first premier of the Cayman Islands and elected to office as the country's leader in May 2009 is now due to appear in Grand Court on Friday 26 April for a mention in the higher court and begin the case management of the process towards trial. It is not clear when Bush will enter what are expected to be not guilty pleas to the charges against him but he has vigorously denied all of the allegations since his arrest last December.

The first charge against Bush is for misconduct in public office when he made an unauthorized cash withdrawal on the government credit card in casino establishments in the United States of US$8,467.26 sometime between July 2009 and September 2009, just weeks after he was returned to office.

The second charge of misconduct in public office alleges he made another cash withdrawal on the government card between 12 September 2009 and 4 December 2009, again in an American casino of US$6,980.80. The third count against the former premier is a charge of theft based on the first withdrawal of US$8,467.26 and thefourth count is the theft of the second sum.

Meanwhile, the fifth count and a third theft charge refers to US$17,478.43, which was stolen between 18 January and 1 April 2010 via the government-issued card. The sixth count and the fourth charge of theft is for US$17,074.66, again on the government credit card sometime between 17 March and 21 April 2010.

Another theft of US$1,026.08 on the credit card on or about 23 April 2010 makes the seventh count. The remaining four charges against the premier relate to breach of trust by a member of the Legislative Assembly in relation to several of the theft charges, which were also cash withdrawals from American casinos.

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