Monday 9th January, 2006

 

Williams cries false charges

 
 
 
 
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BY JUHEL BROWNE

Energy Minister Eric Williams spent the morning in church yesterday as he faces seven charges for allegedly receiving a total of $75,000 in bribes in 2003 concerning an ongoing seismic project in Pt Galeota.

Interviewed yesterday, Williams said God will see him through what he asserted are false charges of misconduct in public office laid against him as he prepared to surrender to the police today.

However, Williams would not say if he intended to resign as Energy Minister or as the MP for Port-of-Spain South.

As of late Saturday, the seven warrants obtained by the police for Williams’ arrest had not been executed.

“My God will vindicate me,” Williams said when contacted yesterday.

“I maintain my innocence. My lawyers yesterday arranged with the police for my surrender on Monday.”

After messages were left on his cellphone by the Guardian yesterday, Williams responded to questions by a series of text messages.

He did not say exactly which church he attended yesterday but clarified it was not a Roman Catholic church.

In a Guardian article published on May 21, Williams said he was praying and fasting as he faced what were then allegations of misconduct concerning a seismic contract between bpTT and a company he founded.

At that time, the Guardian had been informed that Williams had been spending time at the RC seminary and retreat, Mt St Benedict, which is located on the hills above St Augustine.

Williams then said his spiritual retreat, and week-long silence before the May 21, 2005, article, were not any indication of any intention to resign.

“I am Pentecostal,” Williams said yesterday when asked if he was at Mt St Benedict yesterday.

“The Mt St Benedict report was grossly overstated. A friend and I met there to talk in peaceful surroundings.”

Williams was then asked if he intended to resign but sent no response. He issued no further comment.

The charges against Williams arise out of allegations made by PNM Mayaro councillor Dansam Dhansook who alleged he paid bribes to Williams and former Works and Transport Minister Franklin Khan in return for oil contract favours.

Both Williams and Khan had denied the bribery allegations during a media briefing on April 29, 2005.

Williams had also declared his innocence in a statement he made during a sitting of the Lower House on April 27, 2005.

Khan resigned his ministerial post on May 8, 2005, but remained as party chairman of the PNM until he was charged with six counts of misbehaviour in public office on November 23, 2005.

The Opposition UNC has consistently questioned why Williams had not been charged together with Khan on November 23.

The UNC has also questioned why Williams continued to serve as Energy Minister even though Khan resigned his post some eight months ago.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell