Exclusive: Barbados Coroner shuns Canadian expert. Hans Machel not called to Arch Cot Inquest

Updated: November 16, 8:45pm Bridgetown

Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris says she will now “explore the possibility” of summonsing Professor Machel to the inquest. Hopefully he will be available. (Isn’t that exam time at a University?) He could have been given many months notice but the Coroner is laying this on at the last moment due to pressure from the Codrington family.

Attorney David Comissiong, who is representing the interest of Donavere Codrington, asked the court to also summon Professor Hans Machel, a specialist in earth and atmospheric science at the University of Alberta in Canada, who conducted an independent study of the cave after the apartment collapsed.

The coroner pointed out that she would explore the possibility of getting the professor here.

… from The Nation article Arch Cot Visit

Original BFP article…

BFP Exclusive: New interview with Professor Machel

BFP Exclusive: Codrington Family wants Professor Hans Machel to testify

Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris summonsed over 70 witnesses to the ongoing Inquest into the deaths of five members of the Codrington family, who died in 2007 when their home fell into a collapsing cave.

Barbados Free Press has learned that the Coroner did not summons University of Alberta Earth Sciences Professor Hans Machel (photo above) – nor has he ever been contacted by the Coroner’s staff or investigators despite Machel’s offers to provide the evidence and information he and his team collected about the Arch Cot cave-in and deaths.

Sources close to the Codrington family inform Barbados Free Press that the family is most interested in having Professor Machel attend the next inquest date on Friday, December 3, 2010, and the site visit to Arch Cot Terrace scheduled for that same day.

There is despair among some family members that “This inquest is being stage-managed like a play with only certain actors allowed to take part.”

It is obvious that the people who run Barbados do not want to see the evidence that Professor Machel and his team gathered during his publicly reported investigations into the Codrington deaths.

Professor Machel’s contact information is easily available on the internet. It’s the first hit when you Google his name. That’s how BFP was able to contact him.

The contact information is posted publicly on Machel’s own website and the University of Alberta websites, so he won’t mind the information repeated here for Coroner Marshall-Harris and her staff – should the Coroner change her mind about issuing him a summons to the inquest…

Hans Machel
University of Alberta
Faculty of Science, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
780-492-5659 (phone)
780-492-2030 (fax)
emails (two on public record on the internet via Google. Unknown if one or both are valid, so send to both)

As detailed in several Barbados Free Press articles over the past three years, Professor Machel has been at the forefront of demanding an inquest for the Codrington deaths.

“The most detailed public reports produced so far on the Arch Cot building collapse disaster were written by a Bajan and a Canadian who together launched an investigation when it became obvious the authorities were in cover-up mode.

Bajan Richard Goddard (former police officer) and Professor Hans G. Machel (Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta) collaborated during their investigations. They interviewed, observed, photographed, gathered evidence and rock samples at the disaster scene and wrote public reports – first at Barbados Free Press, and then in the Barbados Advocate when that paper was eventually shamed into printing a heavily edited version their reports.”

… from BFP’s October 10, 2010 article: Arch Cot Inquest witness intimidation: Professor Hans G. Machel reports intimidation, fears of arson, bodily harm, job loss against potential witnesses.

Exclusive Interview with Professor Machel

Professor Machel recently told Barbados Free Press that he had no knowledge that an inquest had been called until he was contacted by BFP’s Cliverton on October 10, 2010.

When asked if the Coroner or any investigator had contacted him or replied to his numerous offers to share his evidence, Professor Machel replied, “Nobody. Neither the Coroner or any official government investigator has ever interviewed me or asked for materials.”

He continued, “I would be happy to testify, as I have stated before in my newspaper articles in the Barbados Advocate and in my various writings that were posted in BFP.”

The professor told BFP that he is already scheduled to return to the island in December for two to three weeks, so he is available should he be summonsed.

Barbados Coroner Faith Marshall-Harris. Why didn't she summons Professor Hans Machel? (Photo: The Nation)

Is Machel’s story of witness intimidation too inconvenient for the Coroner?

In an earlier exclusive to Barbados Free Press, Professor Machel told of the intimidation of Arch Cot witnesses…

“We now know the names of those who worked to remove the legal obstacles to built on the land that this house stood on, land that was not to be built on. We shall disclose this information in due time.”

“I found out very quickly that the deaths of the Codrington family were entirely avoidable for two reasons: the house that they had lived in should never have been built on that site, and the imminent collapse of the huge cave underneath was not recognized or ignored.”

“I found out many more things that the public has a right to know but that have been hidden so far. I encountered an atmosphere of frustration and intimidation, nourished especially under the previous BLP government. I met several individuals who were afraid to speak out for fear of loosing their jobs, bodily harm, or having their houses burnt down, if they ever went public with what they know. I will speak for them. And should the day come, I am prepared to testify in any court of law under oath.”

… from the February 1, 2009 BFP article Barbados Newspapers Refuse To Print Letter Revealing Secret Government Report Into Cave-In Deaths. Professor Machel Will Name Names

For detailed coverage of the November 15, 2010 Arch Cott Inquest sitting, see Barbados Today, November 15, 2010 issue, page 7 online here.

When Professor Han Machel isn’t teaching in Alberta or writing another book about the geology of Barbados, he can be found crawling around some of our caves. For some wild and wonderful photos of the hidden world under your feet, check out the website of Stephen Mendes. (Above photo of Professor Machel courtesy of Stephen Mendes)


Filed under Barbados, Building Collapse, Disaster, Real Estate

13 responses to “Exclusive: Barbados Coroner shuns Canadian expert. Hans Machel not called to Arch Cot Inquest

  1. permres

    This is a travesty! It really calls for some sort of action, a petition, and a mass turn-out when this visit to the site is conducted.

    Is there NO-ONE in Government who feels the same as we do? What are Hamilton Lashley’s views, he has always seemed to be one for the common people?

  2. Fairness is the enemy of Justice

    It took three and a half years of agitation and pushing by the Codrington family, Professor Machel and the blogs before the Coroner called an inquest.

    Read Professor Machel’s reports at BFP and the Barbados Advocate and you’ll see why the big shots don’t want Machel called to testify at the inquest.

    The Coroner is protecting herself and her career by not summonsing Professor Machel. His testimony would be very inconvenient.

  3. reality check

    The Coroner isn’t really calling the shots here as she should be doing everything to appear to be impartial and including all relevant evidence.

    Someone has already had a “chat” with her of who will testify and what the final report will say. The question is Who and Why?

  4. permres

    The Nation has now reported, Wednesday, 17th November, 2010. A small panel on page 3A (with a phot0), and a reference to pages 6A and 7A, but only 6A has anything about this.
    Well, I suppose they are trying – it ought to be front page.

  5. Johnny Postle

    I am watching this inquest with keen interest. Because my gut tells me it will go just like the win. The coroner is just a mere puppet on a string. If the professor is indeed summons it would be a cold day in hell for the devil and his imps; not failing to mentioned the politrickians and their leeches.

  6. bajan kidd

    I always had a feeling that that coroner faith marshall harris or whatever was a damn sellout, stupse. I wish people would do the damn job that they are paid taxpayers dollars for. No wrong deed goes unpunished, GOD is watching.

  7. bajan kidd

    And I hope BFP continues to chew up all a wunna online.

  8. Mashup

    Why did it take three and a half years to call an inquest?

    Why weren’t the family members and their lawyers told about the inquest until they read it in the newspapers?

    Why isn’t the coroner interested in Professor Machel’s evidence of intimidation against witnesses?

    Why isn’t the coroner interested in the evidence the professor collected?

    Why didn’t the coroner’s office contact Professor Machel after his public lectures in Barbados and the publication of his articles in the Bajan news media?

  9. Diagenesis

    We’ll all be watching this proceeding with a keen eye on the outcome. Since it doesn’t look as if Prof. Machel will be involved, is there any information on who will be testifying on the technical aspect of the collapse?

  10. Diagenesis

    Let me retrack the question I asked above. I’d an opportunity to read the Nation article (11/16/10) and concluded that the Coroner has requested a quite formidable contingency of technical experts to accompany her on the site visit on Dec. 3rd.

    However, while it would be premature to guess at the outcome of the Inquest, it would be in the very best interest of Attorney David Comissiong, and others representing the interest of the Codrington family, to have Professor Hans Machel involved in this process. Given the Coroners’ list, and since she is conducting this inquire on behalf of the state, she does not necessarily have to request the testimony of the professor.

    If I may state here, regardless of the findings of the government’s inquest, Mr. Comissiong and the all the aggrieved residents of Arch Cot will need independent testimony in the coming civil case.

  11. BFP

    Hi Diagenesis,

    Don’t forget that the results of the inquest were already announced in August 2007 by then Attorney General Dale Marshall. He said it was nobody’s fault and it “could have happened to anyone.”

    The bodies were still under the rubble at the time, then we had to scream and yell for 3 and a half years to get an inquest and when it came it was stage-managed.

  12. permres

    This catastrophy has to be considered as one of Barbados’s worst disasters. Look at Cambodia, now being scrutinised for the death of over 300 people in their recent festival.
    If this is all covered up to protect those responsible, (it was NOT a natural disaster), then my belief that Barbados is a very Christian country will be completely destroyed.

  13. Pingback: Arch Cot Justice will be delayed another 20 years | Barbados Free Press