Archive for June 20th, 2014

Men freed in Carnival shooting case

| 20/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Two men who had been charged with attempted murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and the unlawful use of a firearm during the Batabano Carnival this year were released by the court on Friday when the crown offered no evidence against the men as the complainant has refused to testify. Todd Bowen and Daniel Bennett were discharged Friday but were warned that should the person who was shot at, but uninjured, reconsidered his decision not to come to court or if any other new evidence came to light the men could be re-arrested.

Although police recovered a bullet from a tree at the scene in George Town following the shooting during the carnival in May when the streets were full of people, a firearm recovered from Bowen’s home was found to be a licensed weapon belonging to a family member. The local authorities have not stated whether or not the bullet found in the tree was a match for the seized weapon.

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Syed to be tried March 2015

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(CNS): The former president of the UCCI, who is accused of going on a spending spree on a government credit card to the tune of some $200k, will face trial in connection with allegations of theft and fraud next year. Hassan Syed (47) appeared in the Grand Court for the first time on Friday morning, when the trial date was set for 2 March 2015. The court heard that the indictment, which will allege some fifteen counts of theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and property by deception, had not been completed by the crown when Syed appeared and as a result the former university boss was not arraigned, although it is understood he will plead not guilty to all charges. Represented by James Austin of Campbells, Syed was bailed to return to court in November to enter his pleas.

Hassan Syed returned to Cayman from Switzerlandl ast month after being on the run for some six years. The crown had sought to extradite him but because he is currently fighting cancer he agreed to return if he could be bailed in order to receive treatment.

Syed is currently on a house curfew between 9pm to 8-30am and is wearing an electronic monitor. He is to report to police regularly and the court is holding a bond of $50,000. The local family with whom he is staying has put up a further surety of $400,000 based on their home. He has also surrendered both his Canadian and Pakistani passports.

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Bullets cost newlywed $3000

| 20/06/2014 | 79 Comments

(CNS): A visitor to the Cayman Islands was fined $3000 Thursday after he admitted having 50 rounds of ammunition in his luggage when he arrived at the airport last weekend for his honeymoon. Joshua Onkka (27) has escaped a potential seven year term jail for his guilty plea for possessing the bullets when he told the Summary Court he had inadvertently left the bullets in his bag following a recent hunting trip in Denver, Colorado, with his bride’s uncle. The newly we,d who works as an oil field labourer in Wyoming, was apologetic and contrite about the 9mm rounds as he accepted the fine rather than the 90 days in jail offered by Magistrate Valdis Foldats.

The two boxes of handgun bullets, each containing 25 rounds, were found in Onkka’s bag by customs officers at the Owens Roberts International Airport on Saturday 14 June after he had arrived on an American Airlines flight from Miami.

The magistrate explained to Onkka that he was carrying a “substantial amount of ammunition” and as a result was facing very serious charges since the Cayman Islands has a completely different philosophy on guns and related crime compared to the United States, where the laws are considerably more liberal towards firearms. Foldats explained the minimum sentence for firearms and said that had Onkka arrived with his gun as well he would have had been sent to jail for seven years. Magistrate Foldats warned that people needed to be aware of the laws of the countries they were visiting.

“I had forgotten all about it completely,” Onkka said. “I deeply apologize for any inconvenience I have made for anybody here. I really know now that you guys don’t mess around with this kind of stuff. And I’m sorry.”

Taking his prompt guilty plea into consideration as well as the circumstances of the case, Foldats handed down the $3,000 fine after the honeymooner opted to pay rather than serve three months in jail. The judge also said that the ammunition was to be forfeited. The court heard that Onkka was leaving Cayman Friday after he and his new bride had missed their flight home on Wednesday after his arrest.

Magistrate Foldats commended the customs department for their vigilance as it was observed that Onkka had passed through two airports, including Miami, with the ammunition in his bag but it was Cayman’s officers that had picked up on the bullets.

“It’s a credit to our customs services that they are that vigilant and that they’re concerned in terms of firearms and drug. It is a credit to our jurisdiction.”

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Competitors and volunteers wanted for national meet

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(CNS): The 2014 National Championships will be held at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex next weekend when local athletes will not only compete for national honours but to qualify for a number of upcoming international track meets. The athletic event starts on Friday, June 27 at 6:00pm and Saturday, June 28 at 4:00pm when some of Cayman’s best sporting talent will be on show. Organisers are also appealing for volunteers to help out at this important meet on the athletic calendar. Contact and see registration form below.

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Margaret Ramsay-Hale gets top judge job in TCI

| 20/06/2014 | 46 Comments

(CNS): The former chief magistrate of the Cayman Islands, Margaret Ramsay-Hale, has been appointed as the chief justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She joined the TCI bench as a Judge of the Islands’ Supreme Court in November 2011. Recommended to the TCI’s governor by the Judicial Service Commission she will assume her new position later this year when the current Chief Justice Edwin Goldsborough retires. "I have offered this position to Justice Ramsay-Hale this week, and I am very pleased that she has accepted it,” said Peter Beckingham, the TCI governor.

“I am certain that she will bring a great deal of energy as well as professional wisdom and experience to this very important job in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I would also like to pay tribute to the work of current Chief Justice Goldsborough. He has over-seen the judicial process at a difficult and demanding time for the country, and Turks and Caicos has benefitted greatly from his contribution," the islands’ UK boss said.

Born in Jamaica-born Ramsay-Hale holds a degree in economics from the London School of Economics in addition to her law degree from the University of the West Indies. As well as a successful legal career, Ramsey Hale is also a former model and also Miss Jamaica. Before going to TCI she came to Cayamn in 1998 and rose to the top job in Cayman’s summary court and also acted as a Grand Court judge on occasion.

Ramsay-Hale is the daughter of the late Jamaican attorney Ian Ramsay, QC, widely regarded as one of the best lawyers in the history of the Caribbean and the first Jamaican lawyer to become Queen's Counsel.

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Miller attacks National Trust

| 20/06/2014 | 68 Comments

(CNS): The charity which helps in the fight to preserve and protect Cayman’s dwindling natural environment and its significant cultural and historic sites came under attack from the independent member for North Side Wednesday. Ezzard Miller probed the environment minister and hurled allegations against the National Trust as he accused it of land banking, "harassing" land owners, pushing down values and breaking its own by-laws. He complained that the Trust owned as much as 30% of the arable or usable land in his district and made a direct plea to his constituents not to sell land to the charity for anything less than $100k an acre.

In a very direct attack on the charity which manages land in Trust to protect it from development and ensure that Cayman retains at least some of its original landscape as well as its heritage and culture, Miller implied that the law did not allow the National Trust to solicit land. He said that one of his constituents, whom he described as being harassed by the NGO, had been approached again to sell his land for just $200 per acre.

“Listen to me North Siders, if they come to you all to buy land, the minimum price should be $100k an acre as the National Trust has plenty of money,” he said.

Miller probed the environment minister, Wayne Panton, on the by-laws of the Trust and implied that the original law, passed when the opposition bencher was previously in government in the 1990s was not being followed as it was never intended to allow the Trust to solicit land. He said he had grave concerns about what “the Trust had been allowed to morph into”, as he suggested it was land banking.

He said that with so much of his constituency’s land in the Trust’s hands, his people would soon have “nowhere to grow cassava, cut a top to make a basket, chop of a branch from a mahogany tree to make furniture or even pick a mango”, as he said that no one can take anything from Trust land.

The member did not see the irony in his allegations, however, that without the Trust acquiring some land for conservation the number of silver thatch trees and other important species would have fallen to the point where the currently threatened national tree would be re-enlisted as endangered.

Pressing the minster about the Trust’s laws, Miller asked why, as set out in the law, the Trust has no district committees, which Panton said he would have to enquire about. The North Side member also asked why the Trust was allowed to solicit and harangue landowners for their property. He pressed the minster over the Trust’s refusal to allow easements across its lands for other landowners. Miller said the charity had recently refused a developer access to his tourism project of just a few feet forcing him to put in a road elsewhere that led to him going via “his elbow to get to his chin”.

The representative who seemed furious that the charity should be allowed to protect land for conservation purposes, said that he believed it was refusing easements as part of a ploy to drive down land values so it could purchase more land. The member insisted that the Trust should not be allowed to solicit for land under the law. However, the environment minister, Wayne Panton pointed out that there is no clause that states the Trust cannot buy land and so it must be able seek to buy that land.

Government allocated $620,000 to the Trust as a contribution to the organization which has a wide remit to look after the history, culture and natural landscape of the islands which included an extra payment of $120,000 compared to the 2013/14 financial year in order to assist with the visitors centre at the new Blue Iguana Wilderness reserve, at Colliers in East End. The National Trust manages that world renowned conservation programme which has brought Cayman’s iconic blue iguana back from the brink of extinction under its award winning director, Fred Burton.

Despite the Trust critical importance to preserving Cayman’s scarce resources, as in the absence of a conservation law it has so far been the only land across the Cayman Islands that is conserved. The Trust has just around 5% of the islands land under protection on which it is trying to preserve hundreds of species of endemic flora and fauna from the ghost orchid to the Pygmy Blue butterfly.

Miller was not the only member to ask questions, McLean pressed the minister about what had happened to an EU donation to the Blue Iguana Programme in East End and McKeeeva Bush the opposition leader asked how much land the Trust had acquired since the year 2000 and its value.

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Governor’s office offers UK stop-gap passports

| 20/06/2014 | 27 Comments

(CNS): As the UK passport office struggles with a mounting backlog of applicants and renewals, the governor’s office said temporary measures for British passport applications have been put in place to deal with the highest demand for passports for 12 years. From Monday 23 June, British nationals living in the Cayman Islands can apply to the governor’s office for their passports to be extended for 12 months, giving time for the backlog to be cleared so they can then apply for the usual ten year travel document.  Details of how to get a passport extension can be found at

In the face of allegations that the backlog was caused by staff cuts, officials from the UK stated that they have issued over three million passports in 2014 and it is the extra demand not staffing problems that caused the delays. Since January, the Passport Office says it has put steps in place to deal with that increase in applications.

To make an appointment contact the Governor’s Office on 244 2431 or

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Archer to open regional forum on export

| 20/06/2014 | 5 Comments

(CNS): Cayman will be hosting a major regional conference at the Westin Thursday when leaders from around the Caribbean region and private sector representatives arrive for the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s 9th meeting of the CARIFORUM. This includes the French Caribbean Outermost regions and the EU’s Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Caribbean Task Force on Trade and Investment on June 26-27, 2014. Marco Archer, the finance and economic development minister will open the event at which the issue of export development, trade and investment in the region will be discussed.

The event is expected to attract to the Cayman Islands ggovernment representatives from CARIFORUM, FCORsand OCTs, regional organisations such as Caribbean Export, CARICOM Secretariat and Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and some members of the private sector.

Known as Caribbean Export CARIFORUM aims to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries for more information visit

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