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Rowley accuses AG Ramlogan of gross dereliction of duty
“Move him now!” That was Opposition Leader Keith Rowley’s call to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in piloting his motion of censure against Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, seeking his removal in connection with the controversial Section 34 issue.
A furore arose on the proclamation of the clause in the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Bill after concerns were raised that the section would allow businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson— on fraud charges — to walk free.
Herbert Volney was subsequently dismissed as Justice Minister in connection with the faux pas. Yesterday, Rowley in calling for the Parliament to “connect the dots” traced back to 2010 when Galbaransingh and Ferguson’s extradition matters were being dealt with and how Ramlogan had handled various aspects of the case.
He said it was only after the Director of Public Prosecutions insisted, both men were placed in custody. Accusing Ramlogan of “gross dereliction of duty” and failing to warn the Government that the Section would allow certain persons to go free, Rowley said in order for the public interest to be protected, Ramlogan could not be allowed to remain in office and be in charge of the process to the end while he was so implicated in failing to do his duty.
Rowley said it would be a travesty and the State’s case may fail if Ramlogan is left in charge of the process. Worse than the dereliction of duty, Rowley said, was the possible expectation or intention that those cases would be discharged.
“T&T cannot trust this Attorney General! We’re not accepting that what occurred was oversight or happenstance. It was well-orchestrated and up to now nothing has been explained. I call on the Prime Minister to tell T&T why it was expedient to proclaim Section 34,” Rowley said.
He said Ramlogan had a duty to know what the amnesty in the section involved and had a duty to protect the State. Although Ramlogan had said he was not versed in criminal matters, Rowley said the aspect of criminal legislation was shifted from Volney’s ministry in the 2011 Cabinet reshuffle to Ramlogan. He questioned why Ramlogan was “presenting the charade” that Volney was responsible. He said the prime minister knew Ramlogan had full responsibility for the legislation.
Rowley said the section of the bill which was presented in the Senate in 2011 was not explained. He said the AG was the only Government spokesman in the Senate and had mislead the Parliament on it.
The Opposition leader said one senator expressed concern about the provision giving amnesty on certain cases and discussions had taken place behind the speaker’s chair among senators on the possible impact of the section. He said Ramlogan had assured senators that before the section was proclaimed, there would be full consideration of all issues and conditions requested in debate by both Houses as well as a full review and amendment prior to proclamation.
He said by the end of November 2011, Ramlogan ought to have known Section 34 would have freed the UNC financiers if the assurances given to the Parliament were violated. “Unless he knew his Government‘s intention was to allow certain persons to go free,” Rowley said.
Rowley said it was incumbent on Ramlogan to take immediate steps to amend Section 34 to ensure certain persons were not beneficiaries of the amnesty as he had undertaken to do this in the discussions with senators. He noted the businessmen had their first victory against the state in December 2011.
Rowley queried why Ramlogan had not raised fresh evidence in the two cases and why Section 34 was not amended so certain persons could not rely on it. He queried why the AG didn’t tell Cabinet in August that proclamation of Section 34 would allow for discharge of certain cases. He said Ramlogan was “grossly negligent” in taking steps to ensure there would be a trial.
Rowley asked if Ramlogan failed to do this as Government intended for certain cases to fail. “It was either a conspiracy or a brilliant manoeuvre to a particular end,” he said, adding Ramlogan tried to escape responsibility and pass it to others. Ramlogan, who sat on the Government front bench took notes as Rowley spoke.
MPs absent from debate were Nizam Baksh and Delmon Baker. Government was said to have a full complement of speakers and the Opposition, eight for the marathon debate.
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