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Gypsy 'very saddened'

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Minister of Community Development Winston Gypsy Peters is "very saddened" to hear that soca star Machel Montano has been found guilty on four charges of assault and one of obscene language.

Montano's sentence is still to be determined.

Peters, who told the Express yesterday that Montano was like his little son and he had known him since he was a child, stated: "I hope that there would be some kind of leniency in terms of....(his sentencing). You know Machel is not a violent person in any way. And sometimes bad things happen to good people. The law has taken its course which is the right way to go, but I do hope that everything works well for him and we wouldn't have any setback because a setback for Montano is also a setback for our country.

"Montano is a flagship entertainer of our country and I hope that everything works well for him. But it goes to show that in Trinidad and Tobago the law, despite what everybody says, the law takes its course and the law is for all. But I hope that everything works well for Machel. I love him to death."

Asked about the fact that Montano had been embraced by the current administration, Peters said he did not know that the Government embraced Montano but rather it was the people of the country.

"Machel is an international iconic figure who happens to be from Trinidad and Tobago. The people of Trinidad and Tobago have embraced him. And rightly so because we need people like that to publicise our island," he said.

Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, who has worked closely with Montano on the 50th independence anniversary project, was more reticent. Tewarie said he did not think that the matter was fully resolved yet.

"My information is that the magistrate set another day for the determination of sentence. So I would rather not say more at this point and wait until the matter is resolved," he said.

Speaking at last week's Cabinet meeting, Tewarie gave an update on the $5 million investment in the 50th anniversary project. He said among the yields of this project was the fact that Montano and his team were there at the London Olympics and performed for seven nights in support of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission "marketing the country".

Montano also produced a CD, in which two songs are signed for international distribution, Tewarie had stated.

The entertainment package will also include a video.

Tewarie had said if 20,000 copies of the package were sold, Government would make back its investment. He said Montano was not taking one penny out of the money earned.

He said some of the profits would go into the Children's Life Fund and the rest would go into an investment fund for the development of music.

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