Charges to be laid against MP tomorrow

Achong was nowhere in sight as the PNM contingent, which included Culture Minister Joan Yuille-Williams and Tourism Minister Howard Chin Lee, took part in celebrations yesterday afternoon.

When Sunday Newsday checked at Achong’s home in Ste Madeleine yesterday, we were told he was in Point Fortin. However, there were no signs of activity at his home in the Borough. This was an unusual development since Point Fortin MPs traditionally host lavish open house festivities during Borough Day.

Earlier in the day in a telephone interview, Achong described the decision to lay obscene language charges against him as “highly politically motivated.” He has promised to issue a full statement on the matter after he is formally charged. Achong initially offered a terse “no comment” when asked to respond to reports that he was about to be charged.

“Let them charge me and then I will comment but otherwise, I have no comment,” he said.

However, when he was asked whether the decision to lay charges against him came as a surprise, Achong, after a brief pause said, “This is highly politically motivated, but I have no comment to make.”

Police are expected to proceed by summons to lay the charge against Achong tomorrow. He will then appear in the Point Fortin Magistrates’ Court.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Geoffrey Henderson gave the instructions to the police to lay the charges late Friday.

Achong’s file is now in the hands of Snr Superintendent Krishna Maharaj, head of the South Western Division where the incident allegedly took place.

Sunday Newsday understands that police investigators recommended that Achong be charged based on their findings.

When asked by Sunday Newsday why the laying of charges had taken so long given that the incident had occurred since last year, Henderson declined comment. However, he said police officials sometimes misrepresent whether or not a file is submitted and whenever this occurs he refers the matter to the Police Service Commission.

“I sometimes read newspaper reports and no file is submitted to me,” Henderson said.

He suggested, however, that sometimes files get “stuck” in the police hierarchy.

“Sometimes the reasons are benign, sometimes they’re not,” he said.

Achong was allegedly recorded mouthing what appeared to be an obscenity to a woman during the taping of a town meeting hosted by television talk-show presenter Andy Johnson to discuss the proposed construction of an aluminium smelter in Chatham.

Achong, who was subsequently interviewed by the police, denied any misconduct.

Section 49 of the Summary Offences Act states that “any person who uses any obscene, indecent or profane language to the annoyance of any resident or person in any street or any person in a place to which the public is admitted or has access or otherwise disturbs the peace” is liable to a fine of $200 or imprisonment for 30 days.

Section 50 stipulates a fine of $1,000 or six months imprisonment if a “person who at a public meeting or during the course of a public march uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned.”

The charges are not the only problems facing Achong. Well placed PNM sources have told Sunday Newsday that a senior party official recently urged the outspoken MP to stand down and not offer his services as a possible candidate for Point Fortin in the upcoming elections.


"Charges to be laid against MP tomorrow"

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