Dominica PM suing opposition leader for alleged defamationMonday, November 09, 2015
ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has instructed his lawyers to institute legal proceedings "promptly" against Opposition Leader Lennox Linton over the publication of a letter that sought to link Skerrit with an investigation in the United States involving the former president of the United Nations, John Ashe.
Attorney Lennox Lawrence said Prime Minister Skerrit has described as "manifestly false" the allegation contained in the October 30 letter by Linton that the prime minister had "subjected the country's independence to a crime syndicate and the compromising influence of international criminals".
In addition, Skerrit states that the letter "carries with it seriously false and defamatory innuendoes or inferences penned not on fact, but solely on reckless, if not intentional allegations fabricated by" Linton and other members of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
In his letter copied to President Charles Savarin, the Opposition Leader claims that Skerrit had "plunged' the disaster stricken island into a crisis "by your dangerous affiliation with an alleged "Macau Crime Lord" now charged for international racketeering, money laundering and other crimes".
Linton said that the "continuing revelations from a probe into corrupt practices at the United Nations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the US has severely tarnished the integrity of Dominica's leadership and its capacity for good governance".
Linton said that the "allegations of bribery and corruption under the cover of the United Nations swirling around the leadership of Dominica at this time represents one such development requiring immediate corrective action to safeguard the public interest".
He has called on Skerrit " to step aside as prime minister within 30 days pending "the completion of US FBI investigations into the corruption of the United Nations by the so-called crime syndicate of NG Lap Seng; and the resolution of whatever unlawful agreements or exchanges you may have concluded with the Head of the Macau based Sun Kian IP Group and/or any of its subsidiaries".
But in his letter, attorney Lawrence said his client's concern "is fully collaborated by the facts" that Linton is "fully aware" that Prime Minister Skerrit "was not mentioned, named, referred to, or the subject in part or whole of any investigation in any way, or at all, and has flatly denied any involvement or participation at, among others, a recent press conference which was broadcast live to the nation".
In addition, Lawrence wrote "an official record of an affidavit of an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been published and widely circulated on line and no doubt in Dominica.
"There is no mention whatsoever of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit or the prime minister of Dominica," Lawrence wrote, adding "notwithstanding these obvious and public facts" Linton has called on Skerrit to step aside.
Lawrence said his law firm has been instructed "to institute legal proceedings against you promptly and particularly if you compound your egregious, irresponsible and dishonest conduct by publishing your letter to any person, or publicly to the world on any form of media, locally, regionally or internationally".
United States prosecutors accuse Ashe, a former UN ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, of accepting more than US$1 million in bribes in exchange for promoting the interests of a Chinese businessman. They also say he did not pay taxes on the bribes.
The indictment also names billionaire Macau-based real estate developer Ng Lap Seng, also known as David Ng, and three others.
Prosecutors allege Ng was seeking Ashe's influence as far back as 2011 to promote the construction of a multi-billion-dollar UN conference center in Macau. Investigators contend he helped draft and then circulated an official UN document to other member states in support of the conference center.
Ashe's alleged co-author, deputy UN ambassador to the Dominican Republic Francis Lorenzo, also was indicted.
Ashe, who was released on US$1 million bail last month, was Antigua and Barbuda's UN ambassador from 2004 until his election as president of the 68th General Assembly in 2013.
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