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Ganja video under scrutiny
Sport Minister Anil Roberts will go before a committee of senior members of the Congress of the People (COP) this morning as investigations begin into the controversial video which shows a person resembling and sounding like a government minister rolling a marijuana cigarette in a hotel room with two women.
Party chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan yesterday confirmed an announcement by party leader Prakash Ramadhar that she and deputy political leader Dr Anirudh Mahabir had been mandated to conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the party. She also confirmed the meeting with Roberts is scheduled for 8.30 am but did not want to give the venue.
She said she expected the meeting would allow Roberts, who has neither confirmed nor denied he is the person in the video, an opportunity to be heard in accordance with the principles of natural justice. “We may have a discussion with him and find out from the others what they want to do but to me it is a very straightforward issue,” Seepersad-Bachan said.
General secretary Clyde Weatherhead said on Tuesday that Roberts had indicated his willingness to meet with party officials and requested that he (Roberts) be present when they view the video. Speaking on CNC3 Morning Brew yesterday, Ramadhar said the fact that Roberts was being investigated by the party to which he belonged showed that its doctrine of accountability was still being upheld. Like Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Ramadhar chose to keep a still tongue until the matter was thoroughly investigated.
“I have to keep that level of presumption of innocence in my mind, first and foremost, but this is politics, so when the party makes its findings we will act upon those. I don’t want to pre-empt anything, to influence anything one way or the other,” Ramadhar, who is also Legal Affairs Minister, said. However, he assured that if the findings of the two investigations contradict each other, they would deal with that accordingly but he vowed that no member of his party would be let off easily for misconduct.
He said the COP’s principles of accountability would not be cast aside, regardless of who was being investigated. “Whenever anyone falls short the COP will say ‘we are sorry, nothing personal, but it is about the future of this nation we must build,’” he added. The fact that the video bears no time or date has also fuelled speculation about its age. However, BC Pires, editor of the Cre Ole magazine, an edition of which is seen in the video, has sought to shed some light on the timeline.
In a letter to the editor yesterday, Pires wrote: “Because the time of filming of the alleged illegal activities of a government minister in a hotel room has been questioned, I write to state that the incident could not have taken place before January 2012. Unless there has been some extraordinarily good manipulation of the images.
“I am the editor of an annual magazine, Cre Ole - The Guide to Dining in Trinidad and Tobago. The 2012 edition was published in late December of 2011, effectively January 2012. I have looked at the video and can state firmly that the magazine on which the substance in the video footage was packaged was the 2012 issue of Cre Ole. “Another copy of the same magazine is also in plain view on the video. The magazine publisher also recognises the magazine.
“However, useful or helpful it might be to anyone, it is simply untrue to say the events took place before 2012.”