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D'Aguilar in hot water - 'Improper' on-air comments to be investigated by commission

Published:Friday | September 18, 2015 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

CONVENOR OF the Tivoli Committee Lloyd D'Aguilar could find himself in trouble for comments he made in two radio interviews this week, which attorneys involved in the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry claim are sub judice.

Chairman of the commission Sir David Simmons indicated yesterday that the matter would be referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) "to determine whether any criminal offence may have been committed".

Before that, Simmons said the commission would seek to obtain transcripts of the two interviews done by D'Aguilar on Nationwide News Network as well as the verbatim evidence of the witnesses "about whom the comments were made".

He said the entire package would then be turned over to the office of the DPP.

"This matter is very serious," Simmons underscored.

The decision came after attorney for the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Linton Gordon raised concerns that D'Aguilar, during the interview, made reference to the contents of a witness statement given by a

resident of Tivoli Gardens who is not scheduled to give her evidence until sometime next week.

"Mr Chairman, my understanding is that a matter before a judicial body such as yours ought not to be the subject of this kind of discussion, but it has gone beyond that to discuss potential evidence not yet given," Gordon objected.

"This is a case in which a witness, who has not yet appeared and given evidence, her statement is being discussed by someone on the air. The matter is sub judice as far as I understand, and this ought not to have been taking place," he continued.


improper action


Responding to Gordon, attorney for the Tivoli Committee Michael Williams conceded that D'Aguilar's action was "improper" but pointed out that his client was seeking to explain discrepancies discovered in several witness statements.

Williams also disclosed that the witness D'Aguilar made reference to in the interview would no longer be appearing before the committee and insisted that his client did not go into the details of evidence still to be adduced by the commission.

The attorney noted that D'Aguilar - who has been barred from attending the enquiry - has a constitutional right to freedom of expression, and "I cannot dictate to him how he dictates same".

Meanwhile, a former Tivoli Garden resident has testified that an official police document indicating that he only spent one day at the detention centre was incorrect. The document was created at the National Arena during the May 2010 operations.

Instead, Oneil Smith told the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry that he spent four days at the arena.

An official police release form cited by counsel to the commission Symone Mayhew indicated that Smith was detained on May 27, 2010, and released the same day.

But Smith insisted that he was taken into custody on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, and not released until the Saturday.

Responding to questions from attorney for the Jamaica Constabulary Force Deborah Martin, the former Tivoli Gardens resident said that at the time he was released, he did not check the date on the document because he was happy to be leaving.

Smith described the conditions at the National Arena as deplorable, saying that the facility was smelly and that he was unable to take a bath.

He also testified that while at the arena, he only had one meal.