(Trinidad Express)

Soca star Machel Montano was this morning found guilty of five criminal offences.

Montano, the reigning Power Soca Monarch and Road March king, along with Kernel Roberts, the son of legendary Calypso icon Lord Kitchener, Joel “Zan” Feveck, a member of Montano HD Family, and Rodney “Benjai” LeBlanc, best known for his patriotic song, Trini, were all charged with a series of criminal offences arising out a fracas outside the Zen nightclub, in Port of Spain in April 2007.

After postponing her decision on two consecutive occasions, Magistrate Maureen Baboolal-Gafoor, presiding in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court, delivered her decision to a packed courtroom this morning.

Montano was found guilty on four charges of assault against Gerard Borwin, Brandis Browne, Janelle Lee Chee and Russell Pollonais.

Montano was also found guilty of using obscene language during the same incident.

Roberts, the composer of several of Montano’s hits, was also found guilty on two charges of assault while Benjai, who was charged with two offences of assault and Feveck, who was charged with a single offence of assault, were found not guilty.

Magistrate Baboolal-Gafoor adjourned the matter to January 17, 2013, after hearing pleas of leniency from the attorneys representing the two men.
She ordered that they remain free on bail pending her decision

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THE QUEEN’S Park Savannah stage is being redesigned ahead of next year’s Carnival, the National Carnival Commission CEO, Clarence Moe, revealed yesterday.

Moe made the disclosure as he was appearing before a Parliamentary committee on the NCC. At the committee hearing – the Joint Select Committee (Group 1) – Independent Senator Harold Ramkissoon expressed concern that the NCC had yet to tender for the stage, two months shy of Carnival which is in February.

“There was need for redesign and we are awaiting the Ministry of Works for an indication of what we are going to do but we still have time since construction would be minimal,” Moe said in response. “We are still awaiting word from the evaluation as to the steel as it relates to the stage,” he said.

Ramkissoon called for a forensic audit of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) as he queried million-dollar disparities in figures for rentals given to the Parliamentary committee.

He also expressed concern over the apparently rushed and last-minute issuing of invitations to tender for the construction of stands in the Queen’s Park Savannah – including the North Stand – ahead of Carnival in next February.

In relation to rentals, the senator expressed alarm that the NCC told the Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (Group 1) that its rentals totalled $250,000 annually, while other documents showed that for 2011 and 2012, the total rentals were $7.7 million and $5 million, respectively.

“That is quite a contradiction to what was given us,” the senator said. “That is also quite a lot in rental fees. The NCC must explore the possibility of moving some of its offices to the Savannah and cut down the rent. These are really high rental fees.”

He noted the rental of offices on Cipriani Boulevard alone accounted for $1.5 million in 2011.

Ramkissoon expressed worry that Carnival is in about two months’ time and the NCC is only now tendering for the Savannah facilities.

“I am concerned about all of this rush to tender contracts with respect to this year. You are not advertising. It is already December and presumably this process has to be wrapped up by January because Carnival is early February. There is a very narrow window to get this thing done. This is not good enough,” he said.

Of the rushed tendering, Ramkissoon warned, “It opens the door to corruption. These things should have been done six months ago.”

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( l - r ) Macka Diamond, Lady Saw - File

Dancehall artiste Macka Diamond believes that her fellow artiste Lady Saw needs to stop advertising her Christianity and just practise it instead.

In a release to THE STAR, Macka Diamond said that Lady Saw should go deeper in her spirituality.

"I believe that it is a good decision for her to make that personal commitment to God, but why advertise it? Instead of talking about church, she should just do it, go missing off the scene, and go deeper in her spirituality. There is no need to advertise your Christianity like is some form of promotion. That's just what I believe", Macka Diamond was quoted as saying in the release.

She also doubted the sincerity of Lady Saw's conversion, given that she is still performing dancehall songs.

she woulda repent her sins

"Usually, when people say dem tun Christian, yu declare yourself, you call people you are in conflict with, and say 'let's stop this ...', but mi no get no call, that means say 'have up' still a gwaan. As a good Christian, she woulda repent her sins, call me and forgive me. Her church thing caan frighten me, mi ah talk mi mind ... if you are a Christian, dancehall is just not the place for you, but she is doing the same things she did before," Macka Diamond went on to say.

When contacted, a member of Lady Saw's camp said they had no comment on the issue.

In the meantime, Macka Diamond's Forty and Fabulous had been added to the playlists on radio stations in the UK, The Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

She recently released a song called Sick To The Treatment and a new combination single called Bun Him Part Two featuring Blacker.

However, it is her new single, Mi Bless, on the Pusha Yute-Chase Millz Records label which is generating a lot of buzz in the dancehall.

"Several dancehall selectors ah link me hard fi it, and the radio tun up right now," Macka Diamond said.

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