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Jamaica puzzled by theft of beach

Police in Jamaica are investigating the suspected theft of hundreds of tons of sand from a beach on the island’s north coast.

It was discovered in July that 500 truck-loads had been removed outside a planned resort at Coral Spring beach.

Detectives say people in the tourism sector could be suspects, because a good beach is seen as a valuable asset to hotels on the Caribbean island.

But a lack of arrests made since July have led to criticism of the police.

‘Complex investigation’

The beach at Coral Springs, in Jamaica’s northern parish of Trelawny, was 400 metres (1,300ft) of white sand. The 0.5-hectare strand was to form part a resort complex costing US$108m, but the theft of its most important feature has led to its developers putting their plans on hold.

Illegal sand mining is a problem in Jamaica; the tradition of people building their own homes here means there is a huge demand for the construction material. However, the large volume and the type of sand taken made suspicion point towards the hotel industry.

The disappearance was deemed so important that the Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, also took an interest in the theft and ordered a report into how 500 truckloads of sand was stolen, transported and presumably sold.

Three months on, and with no arrests or charges in the case, the main opposition People’s National Party have suggested that some people now think there has been a cover up.

But the deputy commissioner for crime at the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Mark Shields, insisted this was not an open-and-shut case.

“It’s a very complex investigation because it involves so many aspects,” he told the BBC.

“You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be the sand. The trucks themselves, the organisers and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.”

Police said they were carrying out forensic tests on beaches along the coast to see if any of it matches the stolen sand.

The Shroud of mystery surrounding the death of veteran roots play actor Cleve ‘Chu Chu’ Warren has been lifted

57 packets of the drug found during autopsy

Diandra Grandison, staff Reporter

The shroud of mystery surrounding the death of veteran roots play actor Cleve ‘Chu Chu’ Warren has been removed, after THE STAR was reliably informed that the actor died of complications from cocaine that was found in his stomach.

Last Friday, THE STAR reported that the 46-year-old actor died while undergoing treatment for an ‘undetermined illness’ at the St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

Information reaching THE STAR states, however, that 57 packets of cocaine were found and removed from the actor’s stomach, during an autopsy that was performed on his body yesterday morning.

According to reports, one of the packets had burst inside the actor.

A relative told THE STAR that the actor died hours before he was scheduled to leave the island for New York and later to the United Kingdom where his mother resides.

complete disbelief

The relative, who was also present while the autopsy was being conducted, told THE STAR that the family was shocked at what was revealed.

“The family was in shock, in complete disbelief when they saw the cocaine. They didn’t know he was into that, they are so embarrassed.”

The relative also revealed that the actor had allegedly planned for his death, stating that the day before he passed away he had gone to a popular St Ann’s Bay-based funeral parlour and selected the casket he would like to be buried in.

“When he died, the funeral home contacted us and said that Chu Chu had come in and choose his casket and told them that he wanted that parlour to take care of his body if he should die.”

The relative also told THE STAR that there is currently discontent among the actor’s lovers and parents about the location his body should be laid to rest.

“He was married to a woman overseas but she died sometime last year, so now the mother, matey and wifey are fighting over the body. Some want him to be buried in St Ann’s Bay, where he lived, and some want him to be buried in Port Morant, St Thomas, where he was originally from.”

THE STAR asked the relative why they were willing to divulge this personal information, and the relative stated, “I want this to be a warning to all those who are making their honest money and choose to divert because of greed.”

The St Ann’s Bay police were contacted and they confirmed that the illegal drug was indeed found in the late actor’s stomach.

Warren boasted over 20 years onstage and gained popularity after playing a feisty yet likeable woman called ‘Chu Chu’ in the roots play Passa Passa.

Eat Raw Turnips at the Final Jamaica Farmers Market of the Season

If you want to stock up on some fresh vegetables before winter, this is your last chance to hit the Jamaica Farmers Market.

On Friday and Saturday, the market will set up for its last two days of the season, offering free samples of root vegetables.

During the event, market-goers will get to try several raw vegetables that are currently in season and do not require cooking, including turnip, watermelon radish and kohlrabi, a sweeter kind of cabbage heart, the organizers said.

“We want people to try something new, like kohlrabi,” said Dagmar Kostkova of Down to Earth Markets, which recruits farmers for the market. “It’s delicious and very juicy, but people don’t know it very well.”

Kostkova added that the goal is to make people “more aware about the season and what they can eat in the winter, as the season of root vegetables is starting.” Read more

Election of Judge Robinson to ICJ a proud moment for all Jamaicans

JAMAICAN jurist Patrick Robinson’s election to serve as a judge in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), for a nine-year period beginning in February 2015, is a singular moment of pride for all Jamaicans.

Judge Robinson is the only Jamaican and the second Caribbean person to serve on the ICJ in its 70-year history. His election caps a distinguished legal career both on behalf of Jamaica and in hemispheric and international legal fora.

From 2008 to 2011, he was president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, having served the Tribunal as a member from 1998. In 2004, he presided over the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president and the first former head of state to be tried for war crimes. Read more

Ganja decriminalisation brings ‘war on drugs’ to Jamaica

JAMAICA’S decriminalisation of ganja has placed the island in the centre of activities related to the ‘war on drugs’, ahead of the critical United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) where fire works is expected when the issue is discussed in 2016.

Last week, two of the leading organisations preparing the ground for changes in the rules governing drug control, spent several days in Jamaica and addressed a symposium on “The International War on Drugs: The Road to UNGASS 2016″ held at the Mona Visitor’s Lodge in Kingston.

Hannah Hetzer, policy manager, the Americas for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) said Jamaica was now one of the countries the world was looking at after two major developments — the decision by the Government to decriminalise small amounts of ganja and the Mario Deane case in which the young man was jailed for having a ganja spliff and subsequently beaten to death in a cell at the Barnett Street police station in Montego Bay, St James.

“The world is looking at Jamaica to be a pioneer in drug reform in the Caribbean,” Hetzer told the Jamaica Observer, underscoring the country’s important role in the Caricom Commission now studying marijuana reform.

“We are seeing an increasing momentum towards drug policy reform in the Americas, especially where marijuana is concerned,” said Hetzer who worked on the successful campaign to get ganja legalised in Uruguay, the first country to do so. In this regard she credited developments in the US where up to last week the states of Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia (Washington DC) had joined Colorado and Washington in legalising medical marijuana.

She argued that the Caribbean, led by Jamaica, could get in “the forefront of a trend in a world in which legalisation was becoming the preferred option to prohibition”. Jamaica could also emerge as a leader in medical marijuana research, she said, adding that products from ganja were being used to treat various medical conditions including epilepsy; multiple sclerosis; nausea; chemotherapy and post traumatic stress disorder, among others.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at Bristol, United Kingston-based Transform Drug Policy Foundation (TDPF) came to Jamaica on the invitation of the University of the West Indies Centre for Leadership and Governance and the Open Society Foundations which sponsored the symposium, to speak about his organisation’s vision of what the world would look like after the war on drugs. A lack of such a vision had stalled the earlier debate on the drug war, he said. Read more