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Turks and Caicos corruption trial prolonged

andrew_mitchell3From Caribbean News Now


PROVIDENCIALES, TCI — The corruption trial in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) of former government ministers and others will not be finished in 2016, according to chief prosecutor Andrew Mitchell QC.

The proceedings began in December last year and were expected to last six months; however, Mitchell acknowledged that the trial is going much slower than expected.

“We expect to interview about 100 witnesses and we are currently on number eight,” Mitchell told local media outside the court building in Providenciales.

Mitchell went on to say that new expectations have the trial concluding sometime in 2017.

The defendants include former premier Michael Misick, former deputy premier Floyd Hall, his wife Lisa, and former ministers Jeffrey Hall, McAlister ‘Piper’ Hanchell and Lillian Boyce. Other defendants include the former speaker of the house Clayton Greene, Misick’s brother Chalmers Misick and attorney Melbourne Wilson.

Trial witnesses have included one member of the current administration – appointed member of the House of Assembly Ruth Blackman, the former clerk of courts during the previous Misick administration. She has been named as a potential candidate at the next election in the British territory.

Other witnesses included current Progressive National Party (PNP) treasurer Gordon Burton. Burton was not, however, able to provide the accounts of the PNP for the period 1999-2006. While he admits he has the accounts, he testified the hard copies have been rendered unreadable by termites in his home. He also testified that the computer flash drive containing digital copies of the accounts cannot be used because he was not provided with the password.

Former Governor Richard Tauwhare was expected to testify shortly after Easter. He is now expected to give evidence via video link from London.

A Commission of Inquiry conducted in the first quarter of 2009 resulted in a partial suspension of the constitution of 2006, the imposition of direct rule by Britain in place of local ministerial government and the creation of a special investigation and prosecution team to investigate allegations of systemic government corruption.

Elections were held in November 2012 when the same Progressive National Party, widely perceived as responsible for the widespread corruption that eventually led to the current prosecutions of former ministers, was returned to power by a one seat margin of victory.

The current PNP administration will complete its four year term of office in November of this year and an election is therefore expected at any time.

IMAGE: Andrew Mitchell QC

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