Lambirds Scandal Takes New Twist.
THE controversial Lambirds Academy affair took a new twist yesterday when police confirmed that seven Nepalese students thought to be missing in St Lucia were detained by police in Grenada.
St Lucians have been anxious about the fate of the seven since they were reported missing late last week, especially in the light of the fact that some of them had threatened to commit suicide.
The more than 60 students from various parts of Asia have been stranded in St Lucia since late February when it was disclosed that police had arrested four persons associated with the Lambirds Academy that they had come here to attend. Those arrested were charged with money laundering and human trafficking and the Academy has since closed, leaving the students in limbo.
The case against the four is expected to resume in a magistrate’s court tomorrow.
In recent weeks the students have endeared themselves to St Lucians who have stepped in to provide them with accommodation and meals amid their claims that they had no money to support themselves.
Three of the students have been since returned home.
The matter has raised a series of questions locally, but answers have been hard to come by. The government has promised an investigation into the affair but after two weeks there has been no apparent movement in that direction.
Now, the report that the “missing” students have been detained in Grenada, has added new fuel to the fire, since it was not clear how they departed from St Lucia or whether the police were even aware that they had left.
Police sources told THE VOICE yesterday that they did not know whether the students in Grenada had used travel documents to get there.
The case here has similar undertones to a human trafficking case in Guyana which authorities are investigating. Last December 12 Nepalese entered Guyana legally and were given two weeks to a month to stay there. During that time they left Guyana illegally and were intercepted in Venezuela and sent back to Guyana because they had no visas. On December 8, back in Guyana they were charged with failing to present themselves to an immigration officer. They pleaded guilty and were each fined $30,000 or two months imprisonment.
Questions are being raised about the trafficking of Asians in the Caribbean in recent times. In the case of Lambirds, the students claim to have been enticed to St Lucia on the basis of promises of an education and later employment either here or in the United States.