Almost two years after they were arrested and charged with protesting without the permission of the Commissioner of Police, three members of local environmental activist group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) yesterday saw all charges against them dropped in the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court.
Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar dismissed the matter after the police officer who laid the charge, Ag Supt Picton Henry, was a no-show again.
The Express was told that of the 15 times the case was called, ASP Henry showed up on just four occasions.
The three FFOS members—general secretary Gary Aboud, environmental engineer Cathal Healey-Singh and La Brea fisherman Wayne Henry—were arrested on November 12, 2013 following a confrontation with police outside the Parliament Chamber.
They were at the time protesting with scores of fisherfolk who wanted Government to enforce the law on energy companies that have conducted seismic underwater tests without proper environmental impact assessments done.
Apart from the overall charge of failing to get permission from the Commissioner of Police to carry out the protest, Aboud was additionally charged with failing to disperse a public meeting when called upon to do so by ASP Henry.
Healey-Singh was further charged with obstructing ASP Henry in the execution of his duty.
The three were represented by attorney Ian Brooks.
Speaking to the Express outside the Port of Spain Magistrates' Court yesterday, Aboud said he was disappointed that the matter was dismissed.
“The police wanted to prosecute and we regret that they did not have the opportunity to prosecute because we would have looked on with extreme interest at whether the court would have seen it prudent that a law passed in the year 1815, when no one was free in this country, would be upheld now, 200 years later in the year 2015. That is the bottom line,” he said.
Aboud said the FFOS had nothing to profit from the case and noted that its only concern is to protect the environment and this country's resources.
“How could the police prosecute us for that, all our issues are public-interest matters. What this means, therefore, is that we would be arrested very soon because we will continue to protest and demonstrate,” he said.
He added: “What this matter does is that it highlights the incompetence and laziness of those bunch of well-paid parliamentarians sitting in there eating caviar. Why don't they do their work and raise these matters? Where are the Independent Senators? Why haven't they raised this matter?”