T&T murder toll at 95 for year

(Trinidad Express) Within the space of 18 hours, the deaths of a 53-year-old singer, a 33-year-old jeweller, and a 31-year-old recovering mental patient, pushed the murder toll in this country to 95.
The latest incident took place about 2.30 p.m. yesterday.
Police sources have revealed that Darmani Rose, a jeweller who resided at St Thomas Street, Tunapuna, was at his home in the company of two other persons, when shortly before 3 p.m., two men came by the home asking to view some gold chains. Rose reportedly allowed them in and upon entering, the men pulled out cutlasses and announced a hold- up.
They proceeded to tie up the occupants in the home, ransacked the building and made off with a quantity of cash and jewelry. However, before they left, one of the men walked up to Rose and slit his throat.
The two men then escaped. When the Express visited yesterday, St Thomas Street was cordoned off, as crime scene investigators were searching for evidence which would assist them in their inquiries.
Rose’s godmother, Leisel Thorne, said that the 33-year-old man was a “kind and loving” soul, and she could not understand why anyone would want him dead. “He was a down to earth person. A very loving man. Very loved in the community. I find this whole incident very strange, because he doesn’t open the gate for anybody. It would have been for someone he knew. Because a few years ago, while he was at his store on the main road, they shot at him. About two years ago, they even killed his brother. So he is a very cautious man. This is just beyond me.”
Rose’s body is expected to be brought to the Forensic Science Centre in St James today, where an autopsy will be performed.
In the second incident, police reported that on Tuesday, 31-year-old Ryan McKenzie was standing with a group of friends along Waterwheel Road, Diego Martin, when about 9.30 p.m., an unmarked vehicle pulled alongside them and without warning one of the occupants of the vehicle opened fire on the group, hitting McKenzie once in the chest. The 31-year-old man fell to the ground, as his friends scampered to safety.
McKenzie’s attacker exited the vehicle, walked up to the injured man, and proceeded to shoot him several times about the body. The attacker then returned to the waiting car and fled the scene.
The police and emergency health services were notified and a party of officers from the Western Division Police Station responded. McKenzie was rushed to the St James Medical Complex, where he was treated before being transferred to the Port of Spain General Hospital. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after 10 p.m. yesterday.
At the Forensic Science Centre yesterday, McKenzie’s mother, Debra Bowen, said she was still trying to come to terms with her son’s death. She explained that her son had been a mental patient at the St Ann’s Hospital, recently however, he was still a kind-hearted person.
“It still had people who would pick on him because of what he went through, he would argue with them and get into little scraps but it was nothing serious”, Bowen said.
McKenzie’s sister Cooreen, emphasised that her brother was not in any gang-related activities.
“He was a girls’ man and a hard worker before he had his incident, and was not in any gangs or anything. Even after he had his episodes he was just home relaxing, trying to get himself back together. This is what makes it especially hard for us. If he was in something we would have understood, it would hurt, but a part of us would understand. But the pain is especially worse when you aren’t in anything illegal and this happens. It’s an extra shock.”
She said, “Look at my mother, she is in pain, she is in tears. No parent should have to bury their child. If anything positive has to come out of this incident, if I can give any advice to the people of this country. Please put down the guns. This taking-life thing, it makes no sense, because at the end of the day, you gain nothing, and only take away from people and leave them in mourning.”
In the third incident, 53-year-old Ion Charles, who was stabbed about his body several times on Monday morning following a robbery, succumbed to his injuries yesterday at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
Police reported that Charles, of Upper Covigne Road, Diego Martin, had boarded a private-hired (PH) car at about 12.30 a.m. on Monday after he had won $6,000 at a popular casino in downtown Port of Spain. The 53-year-old man had told police that he asked the driver to take him home, following which he fell asleep in the car.
He awoke when he realised a man was choking him, demanding that Charles hand over his winnings. The Diego Martin man resisted his attackers, following which he was stabbed about his body.
The men then took the quantity of cash and threw the injured man out of their vehicle in the vicinity of Fuller Street, Diego Martin, before making their escape.

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Delcidio do Amaral

Brazil corruption probe widens; Senate leader, BTG Pactual CEO arrested SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, (Reuters) – The chief executive of Brazil’s biggest independent investment bank and the leading senator in the governing coalition were arrested yesterday on suspicion of obstructing the country’s most sweeping corruption investigation ever. The detention of such prominent power brokers on orders from the Supreme Court raised the stakes dramatically in a bribery scandal that started with state-run oil company Petrobras and now threatens the heights of Brazilian banking and politics. The arrest of Andre Esteves, the billionaire CEO and controlling shareholder of BTG Pactual SA and Brazil’s most influential dealmaker, sent the bank’s listed shares into a dive that wiped out a fifth of its market value and raised red flags at the central bank. Brazil’s Congress also ground to a halt with the arrest of ruling Workers’ Party Senator Delcidio do Amaral, a veteran lawmaker who has run the economic affairs committee and who has been key to President Dilma Rousseff’s unpopular austerity program. Brazil’s currency fell as much as 2 percent as the scandal threatened both the country’s sixth-largest bank and the president’s sputtering efforts to pass a new budget and avoid another credit ratings downgrade to junk. Brazil’s central bank said it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves to see whether it would impact operations at BTG Pactual and trigger regulatory action. Banking analysts warned that BTG Pactual, the largest independent investment bank in Latin America, could struggle to navigate Brazil’s worst recession in a quarter century without its wunderkind founder at the helm. Clients withdrew funds equivalent to less than 1 percent of assets under management at BTG Pactual, which was less than had initially been expected by some, said a source with knowledge of the bank’s strategy. The six-year-old BTG Pactual, which manages about 230 billion reais ($61 billion), tapped less than 5 percent of its about 40 billion reais in cash reserves to cover those redemptions, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. SHOCKWAVES IN CONGRESS The political gridlock that has obstructed economic policy this year is likely to worsen with the jailing of Amaral, one of about 50 Brazilian politicians under investigation for their alleged roles in a vast kickback scandal at the oil giant known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Amaral’s arrest was the first ever for a sitting senator in Brazil and it sent shockwaves through the capital. Congress suspended its sessions as senators met to discuss how to handle the arrest. After a heated debate in which some government supporters defended Amaral, the Senate voted 59-13 to uphold the top court’s decision to order his arrest. Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki said he authorized the arrest after prosecutors presented a taped conversation in which Amaral tried to bribe Petrobras’ former international director, Nestor Cervero, out of taking a plea bargain that could implicate the senator and other politicians. Prosecutors alleged that Amaral conspired to help Cervero flee authorities. They also said the senator offered a monthly stipend to the former executive’s family, financed by Esteves, who had obtained a copy of a plea bargain based on Cervero’s testimony. Cervero was received a 12-year sentence in August for corruption and money laundering in connection to bribes paid on two drillship contracts. Another defendant in the case testified that Cervero had passed bribe money to Amaral skimmed from Petrobras’ controversial 2006 purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas. Amaral’s lawyer, Mauricio Silva Leite, dismissed the accusation that his client obstructed the Petrobras investigation, saying it was based on the word of a convict. He also criticized the Supreme Court for ignoring the senator’s immunity as an elected official. SHARES DIVE BTG Pactual confirmed the arrest of its chief executive and said the bank was available to cooperate with the investigation. Esteves’ lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, told reporters that the banker “certainly” had not acted to obstruct the investigation. The bank’s listed units, a blend of shares in its investment banking and private equity divisions, tumbled as much as 39 percent to an all-time low on the Sao Paulo stock exchange before paring losses to 21 percent. Court representatives said Esteves had been arrested temporarily for five days, with a potential extension of five days. Amaral was arrested for an indefinite period. Esteves, 47, has drawn on powerful connections in politics and global finance to steer BTG Pactual through turbulent times as Brazil’s economy plunged into a sharp recession. BTG Pactual’s major deals with Petrobras have drawn the attention of investigators, including the bank’s stake in Sete Brasil Participacoes SA, a supplier of oil-drilling platforms that has been swept up in the probe. BTG Pactual also bought half of Petrobras’ Africa unit in 2013. Last quarter, credit to oil and gas and infrastructure companies, which are the most impacted industries in the widening graft probe, accounted for about 16 percent of BTG’s loan book. That is the largest exposure among Brazil’s listed traded banks, according to Thomson Reuters data. Brazil’s central bank said in a press statement that it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves, adding that BTG Pactual has solid liquidity indicators and continues to operate normally. The net worth of Esteves was last estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes Magazine.


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