Saturday, January 20, 2018

Kamla: Probe 'Armygate'

OPPOSITION LEADER: Kamla Persad-Bissessar

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called on the Commissioner of Police to launch a criminal investigation into "Armygate".
The former prime minister, speaking at a United National Congress (UNC) meeting in San Juan on Monday night, alleged that there was a "cover up" to protect Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
She also said that former chief of defence staff Kenrick Maharaj was being "framed" and blamed for the AG's children being in contact with high powered weapons at the Cumuto army base.
"Today I call upon the Commissioner of Police to forthwith commence an immediate criminal investigation into those persons who were responsible for the conduct of this Board of Inquiry," she said.
"It is clear that there are persons who committed criminal acts to protect the Attorney General and this government and they must account for their actions," she added.
Persad-Bissessar further called on the National Security Minister to immediately release the Board of Inquiry report into the matter so that the country can see the extent of this cover-up.
"No one will be speared in this investigation and the law must be allowed to take its course. We will not allow the PNM and this Rowley administration to destroy the Defence Force because to do so will leave all of us exposed," she said.
She recalled that it was Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal who first raised questions on the issue of the AG's children photographed with high powered weapons at the army base.
"Up to today after the army and the Prime Minister confirmed that the children were those of the AG I don't think he has claimed his own children," she said.

Two probes launched

She noted that the army set up an enquiry to investigate the matter.
The Commissioner of Police, she said, also launched an investigation into how these children were allowed to come into contact with these weapons.
The army produced a report.
She said opposition senator Wayne Sturge made a request under the Freeedom of Information Act for a copy of this report which was refused.
Instead, she said they produced a letter under the hand of the Chief of Defence Staff in which the army confirmed the AG was at the base with his children.
Persad-Bissessar said they went on to state that Maharaj, the former chief of defence staff, acting on his own volition to authorise the children to engage in the range practice.
Al-Rawi or Maharaj, she said, was never called to give evidence before the investigating board but yet they cast blame on Maharaj.
She noted that Maharaj issued a statement on Sunday indicating that "they were lying on him, that he had nothing to do with that matter".
"This is a man who gave his life to this country, they have tried to frame him to protect the Attorney General," she said.

'Archie, JLSC must go'

Persad-Bissessar also reiterated her call for the resignation of Chief Justice Ivor Archie and the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC).
She pointed out that last week for the first time the legal profession expressed an overwhelming vote of no confidence in a sitting Chief Justice and the JLSC members.
She pointed out that in the face of all of the concerns expressed about the manner in which judges are being appointed and the process being employed she was informed today about a planned ceremony to swear in two more judges.
"This is a slap in the face of the people of this country and tonight I want to tell the Chief Justice that those who don't listen to the voices of the people eventually suffer at the hands of the people," she said.
"We who have had the privilege of holding public office and who have exercised powers on behalf of the people have learnt that when you don't listen to those who place those powers in your hands, as easily as it has been given to you it will be easily taken away,"she added.
"I want to call upon the Chief Justice tonight to put country first. To put the administration of justice first, to put the rule of law first, to put our people first and to do the right thing and resign with grace and dignity and allow the country and the judiciary to heal," said Persad-Bissessar.