Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, along with Foreign Affairs Minister, Francine Baron, National Security Minister, Rayburn Blackmoore, and Police Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste, have filed a lawsuit against controversial Miami-based blogger Kenneth Rijock, for failing to retract statements made concerning the issuing of thousands of blank Dominican passports to Moroccan Ambassador to Dominica, Mohamed Benjilay.
Host of ‘Talk on the Block,’ and ‘The Hot Seat’, Matt Peltier, and radio station, Q95, are also being sued in the matter.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday, May 15th 2017, at the High Court in Roseau based on Rijock’s failure to retract, apologize and pay compensation for the allegations that he made.
Senior Council, Tony Astaphan, told state-owned DBS Radio that the Prime Minister is not taking this matter lightly and described Rijock as a partaker “in conspiracy with persons affiliated with the United Workers Party to smear the Government.”
“Despite our repeated denials and our repeated answers to him and exposure of him as a con artist and a fraudster and a liar, he has continued on his merry way,” he said. “We’ve decided that we are going to put a stop to it, and we have decided to file this case.”
Saying that he had received information from a person inside the government, Rijock alleged in a blog entitled, ‘How many thousand blank passports from Dominica has been sold in Syria?’ that earlier this year, the Ambassador to Dominica of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mohamed Benjilany, visited Dominica and met repeatedly with the Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit.
He further alleged that sources inside the government advised that the total number of blank passports Benjilany took possession of could be as high as 10,000.
The Ministry of Justice had, at first, dismissed the statements by Rijock as a “malicious, entirely false and an unjustified slur,” and brought clarification in a statement following the discovery of Rijock’s blog.
Astaphan said an eye is now being kept to see if this lawsuit will evoke some response from Rijock.
“We will now see whether Mr. Rijock is going to come forward with his big mouth or whether he is going to run, hide and stay away from the court of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” he stated.
Astaphan affirmed that Rijock is in no way a journalist but rather a smear artist who uses his blogging avenue for the wrong reasons.
“He is a smear artist who uses his blog for extortion and other purposes including seeking to blackmail people or extort money or to embarrass people who will not do or say what he wants or give him what he or his clients wants,” he declared.
Astaphan said that he hopes Rijock will come down to Dominica to present his facts and evidence or “stay away like the coward I think he is.”
He added that Peltier is in “deep water” for encouraging this “reckless behavior” by Rijock.
“Matt Peltier too is in deep water. Tim Hector would have said ‘Mr. Peltier is in deep doodoo’ because Matt has been encouraging this reckless behavior, this intentionally dishonest behavior by Rijock, together with Q95, and they are going to have to pay a heavy price for it as well,” he remarked.
The lawsuit is a turn around from claims Astaphan made in February that a lawsuit against Rijock would be too expensive and a waste of time.
“We were told that suing him would be an extraordinary waste of time because what he writes is such utter garbage,” he stated back then. “The government would be wasting money. The best thing for us to do would be to ignore him and to focus on what is being said in Dominica.”