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Oct 31, 2002

Legal mix-up keeps co-op out of court

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Two days after we reported that three fishermen were fined more than forty thousand dollars for possession of undersized conch, tonight, the cooperative busted on the same day for the same charge, has yet to see the inside of a courtroom. According to Northern Fishermen Cooperative’s Bobby Usher, management is still waiting to receive the official summons from the Magistrate’s Court. The cooperative denies that it never intentionally accepted or attempted to process any undersized product. News 5 understands that on October twenty-fourth, the day of the bust, the cooperative received some five thousand pounds of conch, and Usher speculates the sub-legal sizes slipped through the cracks. Since this incident, Usher admits the cooperative has stepped up procedures at its receiving station and will individually scrutinize all conch to ensure it meets legal requirements. As to the legal mix-up, the Fisheries Inspector acting as prosecutor in this case, Errol Diaz, says no summons was issued to the co-op because their representative answerable to the charge was out of the country. The confusion had to be embarrassing for Diaz when Magistrate Earl Jones called for the matter on two different occasions in his court. The case has since been adjourned sine die, or indefinitely. And despite appearances that there’s a move afoot to make this case go away, we have been assured that justice will be served to everyone in the wrong. On October twenty-fourth, officials of the Conservation Compliance Unit found over sixteen hundred undersized conch inside the Northern Fishermen Cooperative building on North Front Street.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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