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PM: Warner innocent until proven guilty
Yesterday evening, more than four hours after senior minister Jack Warner was suspended from his post as a vice-president of FIFA, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement in which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that she will stand by Warner: It is a fundamental tenet of the rule of law that a man is innocent until proven guilty. This right is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and is an important pillar in our system of justice. And so, the decision by FIFA to initiate a “provisional suspension” of its vice-president, Jack Warner, pending investigation is not a determination of guilt but part of a process that we trust will be fair and unprejudiced.
A “provisional suspension” is not to be equated with a finding of guilt, far less a sentence based on a finding of wrong doing. The process must now be allowed to go its full course since as I said, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. FIFA is an international sport body that is not part of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago; we therefore have no knowledge about its procedures and the dynamics of its unique internal politics. It would be unfortunate if we made premature adverse judgment and pronouncement on a matter that is under investigation. This would be contrary to the spirit and letter of the laws of our land. I am fully aware that events like this involving a senior cabinet minister will be of immense concern to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
Likewise, I am concerned by the allegations made and expect an update from Mr Warner upon his return, which he has assured he will do. At this time, there is no reason for me to arrive at any conclusion regarding the allegations made against Mr Warner. A “son of our soil” who served this nation faithfully at that very football organisation and who was instrumental in leading Trinidad and Tobago to its very first World Cup qualification just a few years ago must be allowed every opportunity to present his case against the allegations made about him. Consequently, at this time I will not prejudge the allegations against Minister Warner, and until there is evidence to the contrary, I stand by him.
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