Attorneys representing the families of three of the four dead divers say they have the evidence to pursue criminal and civil litigation against Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited. Its chairman Newman George has been given seven days to respond to a letter demanding that he hand over all material and evidence pertaining to the divers untimely deaths.
Speaking at a press conference, lead attorney Prakash Ramadhar said all company officials should be placed on a leave of absence or suspended pending the outcome of the investigations. “We have looked at the evidence and at the end of the day Paria will be ultimately liable. If there is any effort to distort investigations, we will pursue civil and criminal action,” Ramadhar said.
He noted that the window of opportunity to save the men was cut short when a named company official decided not to send other divers in to save the men.” “The highest urgency was necessary. We also want to know what authority the Coast Guard had to prevent the loss of lives,” Roget said.
“We have evidence as to who gave the instruction. We want to know the logic behind that. Imagine you play God without the science. What if there was an air pocket? We have seen many natural disasters that people are located and saved. That decision to say the men were dead was to be made by a medical practitioner,” Ramadhar said.
He added, ” This is not a bashing on the Minister of Energy whom we have been in communication with but we are saying that response time should have been minutes not hours. We are here to move to establish liability. This is not a vengeful statement.”
Ramadhan said the letter issued to George also demands that he preserves all evidence available on February 25 when the men were sucked into the pipeline. He said evidence before and after that day should also be handed over.
“We have to be realistic that evidence can be distorted. The family of these deceased people are affected. We will bring this natter before a court of law. This country and the Judiciary will make an assessment and judgement,” he added.
Ramadhar said while he appreciates that an investigating committee was set up, the fact that the executives were still on the job, was a matter of concern. “There is a standard in all civilized countries that wherever possible liability exist the people who are in positions of influence should be removed.”
He added, “For there to be transparency, all persons who have an interest to protect should not have a position of authority.” Ramadhar expressed gratitude to the mainstream media, social media activist Phillip Alexander and the OWTU for exposing what happened to the divers.
He lamented that Paria has not reached out to families to assist with basic needs. Up to the time of the press conference Afeisha Henry, sister of dead diver Yusuff Henry, was trying to find where to go to organize death certificates. Ramadhar said an officer should have been appointed to help the grieving families with funeral arrangements.
Kazim Ali Jr is the first funeral to take place but relatives have asked that the funeral be private.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva