Senior Counsel Tony Astaphan has sought to dismiss claims that the site of a massive fire in Silver Lake was ordered cleared by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit before a proper investigation on its cause was completed.
The site was cleared hours after the Boxing Day blaze, which left 60 people homeless, for the construction of new apartments and there have been concerns that such action will compromise the investigation, which is being carried out by the Fire Services and the police.
But Astaphan said the Prime Minister got the green light to give permission to clear the site by those in charge of the investigation.
“The Prime Minister will tell you that he spoke to the Deputy Fire Commissioner and the Inspector in charge of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department), …. the Inspector on duty at the time of the fire, who after discussions and doing what it is what they had to do, gave the green light for the clearing of the place so that reconstruction, and whatever have you as promised by the Prime Minister, can take place,” he told state-owned DBS Radio.
According to Astaphan, this whole issue has to do with members of the United Workers Party who did not expect a prompt response from Skerrit on the fire.
“I think what the problem really is, is that during the night of the fire, it is being said that the Leader of the Opposition and that the United Workers Party, Thomson Fontaine, in particular, did not expect a prompt response from the Prime Minister and had planned some form of telethon or PayPal set up,” he stated. “Now they are being denied that by the prompt action of the government and to divert attention away from the Prime Minister’s very early and positive statements on the situation is to talk about covering up of a crime scene.”
Astaphan described the issue as “extraordinary mischief making.”
“If any of them have evidence of a crime and this was, in fact, a crime scene, they have an obligation to come forward and say so and identify the specific crime that was committed by whom and how,” he said, adding that personnel from the Fire Services and CID were on the scene.
He said the prompt response by the Prime Minister was in the best interest of the victims of the fire.
“The people of Dominica have to make a judgement call, whether the Prime Minister did the right thing by making the statement for prompt assistance that he made and sought the green light because he spoke to them, from the fire division and the CID, who gave him he green light to continue,” he noted.
He remarked that “another lie” and “another smoke screen” are being hatched by the UWP without specific details.
“I can tell you for a fact the Prime Minister spoke to the Deputy Fire Commissioner and the Inspector in charge of CID who gave the green light to clear the scene,” he stated, pointing out that there were officers on the scene investigating what had really happened at Silver Lake.