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Lovell calls on officials to act to resolve ‘gangster-style’ murder attempt


The Leader of the United Progressive Party
(UPP), Harold Lovell, officially wrote to five key government officials on
Monday, urging them to “spare no effort” in arresting the perpetrators of the
“gangster-style” attempted murder of Customs Officer, Cornel Benjamin.

An alleged attempt was made on Benjamin’s
life one month ago as two gunmen shot and severely wounded him.

The letters, all-dated 11th
November, 2019, were sent to the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the
Public Safety Minister, the Acting Commissioner of Police and the Comptroller
of Customs.

“The attempted murder of a civil servant,”
said an impassioned Lovell, “who was doing his duty cannot be allowed to be
brushed under the carpet.”

The alleged gunmen have yet to be
identified, much less brought to justice, and Lovell said, “We have not heard
the police put out any bulletins. We have not heard any ads saying ‘if you see
something, say something’… and I believe that there’s some attempt to cover
this thing up.”

The letter addressed to the Acting Commissioner
of Police, Atlee Rodney requested that the police force should, “spare no
effort in tracking down these criminals”.

“I beg you to reach out to your regional
counterparts for the necessary assistance,” Lovell entreated. “You may consider
seeking help from the Canadian, British or American criminal investigation
agencies also.”

With public speculation rife Lovell is
also asking for an investigation into whether the shooting incident is somehow
connected to an investigation into a $3 million Customs fraud.

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Benjamin was attached to the Enforcement
Unit of the Customs and Excise Division and was a member of the investigative
team which was conducting a probe into the missing money that the Cabinet
brought to the public’s attention just three days before he was shot.

In one of the five letters, the UPP leader
petitioned Governor General Sir Rodney Williams to exercise the powers vested
in him through section 80(1)(a) of the Constitution and by Section 2 of the
Commissions of Inquiry Act (Cap 91), “to appoint, immediately, one or more
commissioners to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the attempted
murder of Mr. Cornel Benjamin.”

“There must be an independent arbitrator…
an independent referee,” Lovell expressed, “some independent institution, body
or person that stands above the fray, that, at some point, must be able to say
that this thing needs to be checked out. [Because] if the prime minister,
himself, is implicated, there is no way that he would ever call for any kind of
inquiry. Let’s be clear about that.”

Lovell described the attempt on the Customs
Officer’s life as an, “act of intimidation and terrorism”.

The UPP leader’s said he has serious
concerns which, if left unresolved, this act of terrorism may usher into
Antigua and Barbuda a new criminal culture not experienced on the island.

“We cannot allow for this to become a part
of the culture of Antigua,” Lovell said.

“One thing that we pride ourselves on in
this country… is that we have observed peaceful coexistence and a peaceful
decorum. We don’t want to have a country where people are intimidated for doing
the right thing.”

Benjamin who sustained injuries to both
legs during the attack, is still receiving care and treatment at the Mount St
John’s Medical Centre for the gunshot wounds.

The post Lovell calls on officials to act to resolve ‘gangster-style’ murder attempt appeared first on Antigua Observer Newspaper.

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