Last update: 04-Dec-2013 12:33 pm
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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PM’s lawyer on Section 34 progress: Probe appears at a standstill
After almost half a year, no headway has been made into a police probe and an investigation by the Integrity Commission into e-mails purportedly exchanged between Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and other high Government officials arising out of the Section 34 fiasco. The other Government officials are Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of Works Dr Suruj Rambachan, Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma and National Security Minister Gary Griffith. The e-mails, which allegedly revealed a conspiracy to kill a journalist, bribe the Chief Justice and spy on the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, were disclosed in Parliament in May this year by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley.
Persad-Bissessar and her colleagues denied any knowledge of the e-mails and labelled them fakes, but the PM ordered a police probe into the matter. A few months later, the Integrity Commission also announced it too had began an investigation. But, to date, nothing has come out of either investigation. “The probe appears to be at a standstill,” Israel Khan SC, lawyer for the PM, told the T&T Guardian yesterday. “The last thing we are waiting on is to see whether Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson would accept our suggestion to allow our service provider to provide information in relation to the allegations made by Rowley. “Whether they were sent from the Prime Minister’s e-mail and the e-mails of the others, we are yet to hear from him.” Khan’s comment came a day after Persad-Bissessar said he had been put in charge of her affairs in the matter. She made the comment after returning home from Panama on Saturday.
Yesterday, however, Khan said his last correspondence with Richardson, lead investigator into the probe, was about one month ago. Asked what he felt could be stalling Richardson, Khan replied, “He said he’s waiting on guidance and instructions from Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore.”
Asked why he felt Honore was taking so long, he said, “I don’t know. Maybe she’s overworked.” As for the Integrity Commission’s investigation, Khan said the commissioners requested that he ask Google Inc to provide information for September 2012. He said he wrote a reply letter to the commission asking it consider certain questions before the information was requested from Google. One of the questions is what was the basis for conducting a probe into the e-mails, Khan said. “It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the e-mails were fabricated,” he said.
Asked who proved this, Khan replied, “Well, everybody. Even Rowley admitted it. We brought experts who examined them. What Rowley has are not e-mails. “According to legislation, in order for the Integrity Commission to request the provider to supply information, it must arrive at a conclusion that the Prime Minister may have committed some corrupt act.”
Khan, noting that the police and the Integrity Commission are conducting a probe and an investigation simultaneously, asked, “Why don’t they (the Integrity Commission) let the police do its work? There is no factual basis for conducting a criminal investigation, so that’s why it’s a probe.” Also contacted yesterday for an update on the police probe, Richardson said he gave an interview on the matter last week and there have been no further developments since then. Richardson said last week that the Integrity Commission might have more luck getting information from Google than he did. He said the commission seemed to be moving faster than the police in its investigation, as it had been several months since he wrote Google and had had no response.
The police, so far, have interviewed several persons in relation to the probe and said they wrote several e-mail providers, but have gotten no response to date. The Integrity Commission said it had already approached and received communications from “an international electronic mail service provider and is moving ahead with its investigation.”
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