Kamla 'saddened' by Marlene's charges
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has described the charges slapped against former Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald as "sad news".
McDonald was charged with money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Government and misbehaviour in public office after allegations that $575,000 in payments were made by the Ministry of Community Development which she led under the Patrick Manning government, to the Calabar Foundation led by her partner in 2010.
The money was expected to be used to refurbish the foundation's headquarters on Ariapita Road, St Anns or build a community centre in Laventille. McDonald was exonerated by a 2013 Integrity Commission probe but the matter arose again in 2015 after police received new information. In 2016, she was again absolved but the police investigation continued.
In a statement on Monday, the Opposition leader called on citizens to allow the disgraced Minister to fight her case without "mob justice".
"Our justice system dictates that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that is the foundation of our justice system. Mob justice is an affront to the principles of democracy that our country is built on. Ms. McDonald is entitled to a fair trial where she can defend herself against the accusations and at the end, justice will be done by the courts. This is not a matter for gloating, insults and judgement. Therefore, I caution restraint as this matter is now sub judice."
Persad-Bissessar has also commented on reports that the former Minister has fallen ill. She is urging those responsible to ensure that she gets the care she needs.
"I am aware that Ms. McDonald suffers from illnesses and I urge the authorities to ensure that she receives proper medical care, as anyone can appreciate that this will be a very trying time for her. Ms. McDonald's health is paramount, and I do hope that she recovers well so she can have her fair day in court."
Meanwhile, the Opposition leader called for an end to hate and bitterness and instead advised the public to show compassion, love and humanity to others in times of misfortune.