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Dumas on Flying Squad issue: Keep CoP out of probe
Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas said yesterday that the Prime Minister should not have referred the Flying Squad issue to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams for investigation. “I find it very strange indeed that Williams was asked to investigate this matter. An investigation into the matter should be conducted by an outside body,” Dumas said.
He pointed out, however, “It is quite clear that the Prime Minister has not associated herself with Minister of National Security Minister Jack Warner. She simply repeated what Warner said. The Prime Minister did not indicate that she agreed with him.” Warner has said he knew nothing about the new unit. The PM announced in Parliament on Friday that she had referred the matter to Williams.
Williams has repeatedly said he had no knowledge of the New Flying Squad Investigations Unit (NFSIU) until he read about it in a T&T Guardian article published on February 2. However, in a report that Heerah submitted to Warner last week, he said he had approached the CoP to ask if it was possible for former police inspector Mervyn Cordner and his unit, which he described as “voluntary,” to become Special Reserve Police (SRPs) officers.
Heerah said in the report that the CoP dismissed the suggestion. Dumas described Heerah’s report as an attempt to “cover the truth,” and dismissed his attempts to distance himself from the squad. Heerah said he had received e-mails about the unit from accountant Rocky Pacheco, but “most, if not all the times, I was the recipient and not the originator.”
Dumas commented, “An e-mail is the best paper trail to prove anything. Whether he was the originator of the e-mail or not, the fact is there was constant communication between the two men on the matter. E-mails brought into the public domain have shown this. Heerah’s report and the e-mail trail are linked together. “I am alarmed over this entire incident.”
In an e-mail dated October 10, and headed “Letters from NFS,” sent from Heerah’s e-mail address to Pacheco, Heerah wrote, “OK. I reviewed the letters. What I need urgently is a draft of the letter to Richardson to initialise the actions forward.” DCP Mervyn Richardson had suggested that Cordner and his unit should be made SRPs. Pacheco was recently fired as the manager of finance at the SWAT Estate Police Company Ltd.
Dumas also dismissed Heerah’s claim that a private individual had offered vehicles pro bono to the Ministry of National Security in the fight against crime. Heerah’s report does not deny that the eight vehicles used by the NFSIU were from Miscellaneous Marketing Ltd, a company from which the T&T Police Service leases unmarked vehicles. The directors of the company are Sham and Rachel Mohammed.
Heerah said an arrangement was made with an individual who had previously offered the use of his vehicles free of charge to meet the transport requirements of Cordner and his squad. “That has to be one of the most nonsensical statements I have ever heard coming from a senior public official,” Dumas said. “In politics there is nothing like a free lunch. If I offer something to you I expect something in return.”
In fact, he concluded, “I regret to say I do not believe what Mr Heerah is saying. Critical elements have been omitted from his statement. “This is a very serious matter of national security. There is no pro bono arrangement with any ministry.” Heerah’s report said Cordner’s unit needed the vehicles to ensure “critical timeframes were met so that the TTPS could receive actionable information.” This was in connection with a marijuana field in the Northern Range.
Also commenting on the latest developments yesterday from Grenada, where he is attending the inauguration of the Keith Mitchell Cabinet, former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said an attempt was being made to “fool the nation.” “All the elements show that a Flying Squad was revived. Under the Constitution of T&T the minister is responsible for what happens legally in his ministry.
“No official has any authority to accept anything pro bono from anyone or make any such arrangement. It is lies and more lies. “This has to be a joke. Who gave Heerah the authority to make this pro bono arrangement?” Maharaj said.
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