Charge Paria with Manslaughter

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By Prior Beharry

THE Paria Fuel Trading Company should be charged with manslaughter for its response to the five divers who were sucked into an underwater pipeline on February 25, 2022.

This was the finding of Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) Jerome Lynch, KC, and the other commissioner deep sea specialist Gregory Wilson. The report was laid in Parliament by Minister of Energy Stuart Young on Friday. The report followed public sittings.

Divers Christopher Boodram, Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry, all working for contractor LMCS, were sucked into the pipeline because of a Delta P condition. Only Boodram made it out while the bodies of the others were retrieved days later.

Lynch said, “There is not a strong enough case to recommend the prosecution of any one individual, however the law permits a corporation to be charged with manslaughter.

“The commissioners are minded to recommend to the DPP that on the evidence, they find that there are sufficient grounds to conclude that Paria’s negligence could be characterised as gross negligence and consequently criminal. They recommend that the DPP consider charging Paria with what a commonly known as Corporate Manslaughter.”

Berth 6
Berth 6 – the site where four men lost their lives inside a sea line. AZP News/Sue-Ann Wayow

The commission relied on and adopted the evidence of expert witness Zaid Khan who said that the root cause of the accident was the failure by both Paria and LMCS to recognise that a latent Delta P condition, would have been created by the methodology used in the execution of the works with particular reference to the removal of fuel oil from (sea line) SL 36.”

The report stated that both LMCS and Paria breached a duty of care towards their workers.

Lynch said, “Paria also had a common law duty of care given the inherently dangerous nature of the work. That non-delegable duty of care arises in addition to LMCS duty of care. Paria was in breach of their non-delegable duty of care.”

He said the way the families of the divers were treated was “insensitive and uncivilized.”

Lynch said, “The failure to keep them informed, especially in the first 12-24 hours was shocking as was their failure to look after them. They should have been provided with basic shelter, toilet facilities and water and food ought to have been provided by Paria to comfortably accommodate them.”

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