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Two civil trials set for hearing
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley may be required to attend court twice within a three month period as two defamation cases brought by former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan are set to go to trial in July and November.
Attorneys representing the political foes on Wednesday agreed to defer one of the trials which was scheduled to take place over three days next week to between November 15 and 17.
In that case, Ramlogan is alleging that Rowley made slanderous statements about him in a speech at the Port-of-Spain City Hall, on November 1, 2011.
In the speech, related to the AG’s office hiring of attorneys in private practice for state briefs.
Presiding Judge Andre Des Vignes also set a case management conference for July 4, when the attorneys will inform the court if they were able to reach a settlement, which would negate the need for the trial.
Trial dates of July 19 and 20 have already been set for another libel case, in which Ramlogan claims Rowley defamed him by accusing him of using his position to obtain records from the Financial Intelligence Unit. That case will be heard before Justice Joan Charles.
Usually litigants are required to attended the trial of their lawsuits. However, Rowley may be allowed to be represented through his lawyers in the event that Ramlogan’s legal team choses to not cross-examine him in both trials.
In the case before Des Vignes, Ramlogan is alleging that Rowley uttered certain defamatory words against him and sought to disparage him in his personal capacity and the Office of the Attorney General by alleging that he exploited his position and corruptly manipulated the expenditure of $200 million to unjustifiably pay a clique of lawyers for State briefs.
Ramlogan also is alleging Rowley’s comments meant that Ramlogan handpicked the lawyers because of his personal relationships with them and ignored the criteria of competence, merit and ability. Ramlogan said he also was accused of hiring lawyers from his former law firm to handle cases for the State so as to receive a reward or pecuniary benefit from them. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Since being filed, Rowley has been ordered by Des Vignes to pay Ramlogan a total $42,000 in legal costs after his attorney failed to meet deadlines for filing of documents on two occasions, once in 2013 and again in February, last year.
Ramlogan also has two other lawsuits, which is yet to go on trial, related to Rowley’s comments relating to the Emailgate allegations and over his (Ramlogan) handling of the extradition lawsuit of businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
Ramlogan is being represented by Avory Sinanan, SC, Gerald Ramdeen and Richard Jagai. Douglas Mendes, SC, Michael Quamina and Kavir Singh are representing Rowley.