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Cop charged for social media false news

News day / PC Javaughn Ballington, of the Court and Process Branch of the Tobago Division, has appeared before a Scarborough magistrate charged with malicious publication of defamatory libel, contrary to Section 8 of the Libel and Defamation Act Chapter 11:16 .

Ballington appeared before Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas- Ragoonanan in the Scarborough Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, after investigations by officers of the Professional Standards Bureau, who laid the charge, Ballington was granted bail of $40,000 with a surety and will return to court on May 16 .

Head of corporate communications of the Police Service Ellen Lewis reminded the public of the law and said people would be prosecuted if found to be in contravention of it .

According to reports, the video of a prisoner was uploaded to Facebook .

The post claimed that the man had been bitten on his genitals by a schoolgirl whom he had allegedly sexually assaulted .

This turned out to be false .

The investigations into the incident took place two days after Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said he would bring legislation to Parliament to deal with the proliferation of false and misleading information on social media forums which could lead to public outrage, fear, hate and/or panic .

The man deemed a “high-risk” prisoner, was brought to Tobago to attend court and while inside the Scarborough Magistrates’ Court, he complained of feeling unwell. He was taken to Scarborough General Hospital under armed police escort .

While he was being examined by a doctor, it is alleged that a policeman recorded the examination using his cellular phone .

The recording was uploaded to social media, with a post saying the man was being treated for a bite to his penis inflicted by a schoolgirl while he was forcing her to perform a sex act. The post was shared hundreds of times. Most comments focused on condemning the prisoner, with some commentators saying doctors should castrate him .

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams condemned the posting of “fake news” on social media, saying this could give the wrong impression of Trinidad and Tobago to an international social- media audience

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