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AG's security vehicle knocks down Chaguanas West by-election voter

Monday, July 29, 2013
Minutes after voting begins in Chaguanas West by-election...
Under the glare of media cameras and police, paramedics secure accident victim Premnath Rampaul before placing him in an ambulance at Felicity yesterday. PHOTO: VINDRA GOPAUL

A VOTER in the constituency of Chaguanas West was knocked down by a vehicle today at around 9 am, the morning of the Chaguanas West by-election.


Primnath Rampaul, 56, of Cacandee Road, suffered a broken leg when he was hit by a black SUV near his Felicity, Chaguanas home as he was going to vote at the school, which is a polling station listed by the Elections and Boundaries Commission in the constituency.


According to reports, Rampaul, also known as "Leggins", fell as he was struck. The vehicle did not stop, but drove to a dead end across the Southern Main Road and emerged minutes later and was intercepted by police. The driver  did not get out, but kept his tinted window up. He was eventually stopped on Greenidge Street, Felicity. The driver returned moments later and was questioned by police.


Rampaul remained bleeding on the road for close to an hour before two ambulances arrived around the same time, one from the national ambulance service and one from the a private service. Independent Liberal Party (ILP) interim political leader, Jack Warner, who is a candidate in the Chaguanas West by-election, arrived with the private ambulance. Rampaul was taken for medical attention in the public health ambulance.


 Warner said: “The blood that was shed this morning by his drivers will not go unpaid. Win, lose or draw, come what may, that blood this morning will not go unpaid.”


The SUV that struck Rampaul is part of the security detail of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who was not in the vehicle at the time of the incident.


Minutes later, at the UNC sub-office in Chaguanas, Ramlogan said Ishmael had been pursuing his security detail in the area and his officers stopped and cautioned him about following their vehicle, but Ishmael did not desist and was “trying to run them off the road.”


Ramlogan said he was nowhere around and was not in the car at the time of the accident.


He said the incident was the latest form of thuggery in the constituency by “someone who is disguised as a member of the legitimate and mainstream media.”


 Ishmael was driving “in an aggressive manner designed to terrorise and intimidate even a member of the security detail of the Attorney General,” he said.


His officers, he said, “handled the matter professionally” and should be complimented for it.


Saying he hoped Ishmael “will be held culpable,” the AG said the matter was a legal one to be determined by the courts.


Nevertheless, he said Ishmael’s “reckless and dangerous driving in hot pursuit of an identified security vehicle caused this  accident, and that is very clear,” adding that “he must not be protected or defended by the media.”




In a press conference at 12.15 pm on the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN), Ishmael has a different story to tell. Responding to Ramlogan's claim that he was the cause of  the accident, he brought forward video clips as evidence that he was not to blame.


He said he was following the black SUV along a back street in Felicity when he noticed the vehicle speeding up.  He presented a clip which showed that he was some distance behind the vehicle when the Fortuner made a right turn.


Ishmael said when he turned, he saw the vehicle hit a curb then rolled over a man’s leg and heard the sound of “crushing bones.” He came out of his vehicle and proceeded to help the man who was lying on the ground in pain.


The first clip showed a vehicle driven by Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj in the vicinity of Felicity, while the second clip captured the vehicle in which Ramlogan was being transported parked in front of a house near an open field, with a maxi, which was being used to transport voters, nearby.


The third clip showed a member of Ramlogan’s escort walking away from Ishmael’s vehicle after questioning Ishmael about his reason for following the Attorney General.


The fourth clip showed Ishmael following a Prado vehicle at a distance, before the vehicle sped upo, leaving a trail of swirling dust, before turning a corner.


The final clip showed a man lying on the floor in pain, while police officers and Ishmael stood in the area.


Ishmael said he had witnessed the driver hit the man and continue driving.


“If you hit a pothole in the road, you feel it. How can you hit a human being and not know?” Ishmael questioned.


Ishmael also questioned Ramlogan’s version of events.


“There is a stark contrast between the truth and a blatant falsehood,” he said.


Ishmael said he had not yet given a statement to the police because he was told by officers that he should make copies of his video recordings as well.


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