– by Patriot Contributor
IN 2011, Prime Minister Skerrit filed a lawsuit against Dr. Thomson Fontaine and West Indies Communications Enterprises Limited (WICE), the parent company of Q95 FM Radio, seeking damages and aggravating damages for defamation contained in certain emails and statements.
The lawsuit alleged that Dr. Fontaine pulished false allegations on various media that a known terrorist Ibrahim Dawood from India was the holder of a Dominican passport, which caused alarm on the island.
The aggravated damages were for what the attorneys claimed to be defamatory statements and publications during the period 17 th October 2011 – 2nd December 2011.
The PM’s attorneys requested that Dr. Fontaine should publicly apologize and should pay a sum of $250,000.00 to the Prime Minister.
SC Astaphan, a member of Skerrit’s legal team was quoted as saying that Dr. Fontaine was afforded “the opportunity” to retract the allegations and to apologize within 14 days, before the matter was taken to court, which the proper thing to do before a lawsuit is filed against someone for defamation and seeking damages.
SC Astaphan advised that it was a strategic and purposeful decision to join the owners of Q95FM in the case because “the time had come for them to make the question of the responsibility of the radio stations a landmark issue for the courts to decide.”
Dr. Fontaine made no public apology nor did he respond to the letter from the attorneys. Consequently, a lawsuit was filed at the High Court of Justice in Roseau in 2011, claiming that the allegations and statements made by the defendants relating to Dominica’s Economic Citizenship Program and alleged sale of passports received widespread publication via the internet and radio.
According to the Statement of Claim filed on behalf of the Prime Minister Skerrit, Dr. Fontaine, the 1st defendant wrote and published or caused to be published certain articles on various media’ including being a frequent caller to talk shows on Q95 FM, especially “Matt in the Morning” and “Between You and Me”, a very popular radio program that was hosted by Hon. Lennox Linton.
Skerrit’s legal team alleged that Dr. Fontaine made allegations that Skerrit was involved in the selling or granting of a Commonwealth of Dominica passport to Darwood Ibrahim, a notorious terrorist and underworld don that Pakistan recently admitted is one of the world’s most wanted men, who lives in Karachi. Pakistan has for years denied that it has sheltered Dawood, who India claims is responsible for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, along with other terrorist acts.
At about the same time in November 2011, the Skerrit-led DLP administration made a public statement in the media that Dawood Ibrahim (or Ibrahim Dawood), the alleged notorious terrorist was not a holder of a Dominica passport. The allegation, the government assured, is totally false.
The statement of the government sought to deny the allegations of Dr. Fontaine, which made based on a reliable tip that Dawood was granted Economic Citizenship by Dominica. More importantly, according to the government, the security and due process measures that it has in place would make it impossible for a notorious criminal and wanted terrorist to be granted economic citizenship or passport…all claims that the public now knows is like a basket collecting rain water.
It was reported at the time that the Prime Minister had enough and he was not prepared to tolerate the damage to his reputation and the integrity of the country by Dr. Fontaine and others with what he describes as sustained lies and misinformation about the sales of Dominican passports.
According to the wild and overactive imagination of the lawyers for the PM, the campaign engineered by Dr. Fontaine and others has its genesis in a conspiracy of persons claiming to be patriots and an ill-fated romantic dance with the editor of the Weekly Blitz”. The evidence will show that this is the furthest from the truth and the tip referenced by Dr. Fontaine is very credible and reliable.
It was expressed that PM Skerrit was of the view that “these allegations about the passports sales to Dawood were conspiracies and illusions in collusion with criminal elements to attack him and the national integrity of the country.”
Throughout, Dr. Fontaine has remained unfazed and in fact was comtemplating a counterclaim. Dr. Fontaine remained steadfast in his defense and in the veracity of his claims, vowing to do any and everything in his power to get the main actors involved in the indiscriminate sale of Dominica’s passport to be accountable before the courts. He maintained that the people of Dominica need to know the truth about the sale of Dominican passports, and one way of doing that is by ensuring the main culprits are brought before the courts and made to answer under oath.