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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending December 9th, 2005

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Forensic scientists presented evidence this week in the trial of Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams and the five policemen charged with the murder of four civilians at Kraal on May 7, 2003. One ballistics expert testified that when he visited the crime scene he saw 12 bullet holes in the front door and formed the opinion that 10 shots were fired from outside while the others were fired from the inside. A forensic scientist from the United Kingdom said he performed tests on the clothes of the four victims and concluded that some of them must have been shot at close range. The trial began on October 31 and to date has included 31 prosecution witnesses. A police sergeant testified that he went to Kraal on May 7 and was told by Adams that gunmen were at a location waiting to kill white men who were working at the gold mine. He further testified that his team approached the location, announced themselves, and were fired upon.

According to Transport and Works Minister Robert Pickersgill, French construction company Bouygues Travaux Publics Jamaica is not abandoning future segments of the Highway 2000 project. Pickersgill told reporters that things are proceeding in accordance with the schedule and budget as planned, while admitting there had been a dispute over payment by the government agency, National Road Operating and Constructing Company, to TransJamaica Highway, the vehicle used by Buoygues to develop the highway. There is a disputed section of the submitted work claims, which Pickersgill contends is normal in a project such as this one. Pickersgill’s comments came in response to statements made by a Bouygues spokesman saying that his company would leave the island if funding was not forthcoming. He later issued more optimistic statements.

While talks of a potential merger between People’s National Party leadership contenders Portia Simpson Miller and Omar Davies take place, a recent poll shows Simpson Miller as the lead contender by a wide margin. An analysis of delegate voting patterns shows different information though, on what might occur. Former local government Minister Arnold Bertram, who supports Simpson Miller’s key competitor Dr. Peter Phillips, says her support in the most recent poll is tainted by the presence of supporters of the Jamaica Labour Party who would still vote for the opposition party in a national election. He states that the poll does not accurately reflect the will of the PNP’s delegates nor Simpson Miller’s ability to defeat opposition leader Bruce Golding in the next general election. The poll shows Simpson Miller leading with 57 percent of the support for leadership as well as 58 percent interviewed believing she has the best chance of defeating Golding. Dr. Phillips’ percentage was 19.8 in the same survey.

Opposition leader Bruce Golding told supporters that a Jamaica Labour Party government would put security concerns at the top of its agenda. Golding spoke at the JLP’s first annual conference since he ascended to the leadership of the party. He also announced that former Police Commissioner Trevor MacMillan has agreed to head a special team charged with developing an action plan on crime. The team would identify resources required and analyze the management of the police force as well as synchronize the initiatives recommended for the force along with the social policy initiatives required for effective policing. The JLP leader also said the party plans to introduce a host of constitutional reforms once in government, including a constitutional cap on how much the government could borrow as well as deficit controls.

Commuters, school children and workers were left stranded in Old Harbour, St. Catherine yesterday when residents blocked off a portion of the road network from Gordonwood to Church Pen, protesting poor road conditions. Tree trunks, burning tires, rocks and other debris were strewn across the roadway. Numerous travelers had to return home, unable to complete their journeys. Most, however, expressed agreement with the protestors. One motorist stated that it took protesting to gain the government’s attention about such situations. Councillor Gerval Weir of the Church Pen division expressed support of the residents in blocking the roads because communication with the National Works Agency had been ineffective thus far. Traffic backed up as much as three miles as residents rebuilt roadblocks after police cleared them.

Olympic Gold medalist Sherone Simpson was among four sports stars who were honored at the 2005 Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards for Excellence and the Jamaica Youth in Concert ceremony held at Emancipation Park on Sunday night. The award is the highest honor bestowed upon Jamaicans between the ages of 15 and 24. The honor has been awarded to Jamaicans who have achieved eminent national and international distinction in the categories of academics, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, journalism, leadership, sports, youth in service and international achievement. Simpson is a 21-year-old student at the University of Technology, and was recognized as the youngest Jamaican to win a gold medal at the highest level. Simpson helped her country to victory in the 4x100m at the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece.

Area clergymen have stated their desire to reassert influence in Jamaica’s schools to reduce social decay as well as the escalation of violent crime. Clerics agreed that the absence of “spiritual and moral influence” among youth could not be tolerated any longer. The leaders were participating in a forum in central Kingston on Monday. The clergymen said that preaching from the pulpit is not enough, and there is a greater need to find creative ways to reach youngsters at an early level. They believe this could be achieved if churches reasserted their historic influence on schools. Many of Jamaica’s prominent learning institutions were originated from churches, and some maintain strong relationships with their religious founders. It was agreed that reasserting influence will be a difficult task, requiring church members to become teachers, an initiative often thwarted by the allure of higher paying jobs.

Residents of the riverside community along the Norman Manley Boulevard, Negril, are preparing for a difficult Christmas. After their homes were demolished by representatives of the Green Island Area Local Planning Authority early Tuesday morning, the residents had to stand aside and watch the remains of their possessions being removed yesterday afternoon. They are claiming unfair treatment by the authorities. Residents claim they were notified October 15th that they had 28 days, a window most say was too short for them to move. They say they were denied an extension by the authority. Many were in their beds Tuesday night when police and a demolition team razed their homes. According to representatives of the authority, ample notice and repeated notices were given, and that residents made no effort to find other housing arrangements.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Fitz Jackson, said there may have to be job cuts in the public sector after the current Memorandum of Understanding expires in March 2006. Under the current Memorandum, the government agreed not to cut approximately 15,000 jobs in the public service which had come under threat during the life of the two-year agreement. The Joint Confederation of Trade Unions in turn agreed on behalf of workers to accept two years of “wage restraint.” The government was expected to save approximately $5 billion during the life of the Memorandum; however the government was forced to pay $1.8 billion in hardship payments to civil servants due to inflation not being held to single digits, as was guaranteed in the Memorandum. Most unions say they will not sign another wage freeze agreement. Jackson responded that while a wage freeze is not anticipated, there may have to be reductions to offset those costs. Negotiations are due to start in two months.


Kingston College has gotten off to a dream start in the KFC-sponsored ISSA High School Basketball competition with another impressive win, trouncing Camperdown 79-38 yesterday. That’s the second home win in a row for the boys’ team, following a 45-16 win over St. Andrew Technical on Tuesday. Omari Green, captain, led the way for the winners, scoring 22 points and eight rebounds in the game. Kemeron Cameron assisted, with 22 points, while Dean Davenerese added 18 to the total. Camperdown just could not stop KC from shooting, and coupled with their poor shooting performance, they lost by a wide margin up against the home team. Kingston College was faster and gathered offensive rebounds consistently, pushing the ball up the court to score again and again.

Jamaica’s Arieta Martin retained her Reggae Marathon title with an impressive victory in yesterday’s fifth event in Long Beach Park. Also victorious was the Grenadines’ Pamenos Ballantyne, who emerged an easy winner in the 26-mile event despite early challenges from U.S. competitor Michael Wardian. Ballantyne crossed the finish line in two hours, 28 minutes, 42 seconds, well ahead of Wardian and Jamaica’s Andrew Gutzmore (2:42.30). Martin took her race in three hours, 33 minutes and 24 seconds, ahead of Delwyn Williamson and Fiona Syme. Martin and Ballantyne both said that winning was the first priority as opposed to setting new records. In addition, Wainard Talbert and Tamica Thomas came away with the Central American & Caribbean Cup and Reggae Half Marathon titles yesterday.

Driver Gary Gregg and co-driver Hugh Hutchinson of the Jamaican driving team were declared provisional winners of the 2005 JMMC/Petcom Stages Rally, which concluded yesterday afternoon in New Kingston. Two former championship teams, Doug Gore and Mark Nelson, and David Summerbell and Stephen Gunter were declared provisionally as the second and third place winners, respectively. As was expected, numerous cars were unable to withstand the competition and did not finish. The defending champion, Richie Rerrie, dropped out at the end of day one because of mechanical problems. The team from Barbados also dropped out on Saturday, but rejoined the rally yesterday morning. Gregg was one of several drivers who entertained the large crowd with stunt-like driving, providing an intense event for spectators.

The All-Manning selection took an easy 3-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago’s All Schools team in the first leg of the Jamaica/Trinidad and Tobago Friendship Trophy at the Constant Spring Complex yesterday. Goals by Andre Fagon in the seventh, captain Keamar Daley’s penalty in the 43rd and Craig Hunter’s score in the 90th gave the local boys their just victory. Lester Peltier of the T&T team held off two defenders before getting a low shot past Oneil Wilson in the 20th minute to gain his team’s only goal. The team will now have a two-goal advantage going into tomorrow’s second-leg game at Brancourt, Clarendon. The losing team’s coach stated that Jamaica’s team outplayed them completely, were faster and more aggressive.

The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.

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Written by Staff Writer