Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday he saw nothing wrong with Acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Stephen Williams conducting a probe to assess whether there was wrongdoing on the part of anyone—including his own Minister, National Security Minister Jack Warner—on the issue of the alleged reactivation of the Flying Squad.
Speaking to the Express, Ramlogan said the Commissioner "from day one" was very clear about his position in this matter—that according to law, he must know, sanction and approve any new entity that would be involved in law enforcement and he had no knowledge that the Flying Squad had been revived nor did he give his approval to such a proposal.
"I have not seen anywhere, from anyone, anything, to contradict that statement nor have I seen any statement to implicate him (Williams), from any of the relevant parties (ie Warner; Garvin Heerah, former strategic adviser to the Minister; or Mervyn Cordner, former Flying Squad member and alleged leader of the New Flying Squad Investigation Unit).
Ramlogan is a member of the National Security Council, which referred the matter to the CoP.
Ramlogan said the fact that (according to Heerah's statement), the Commissioner "maintained the rule of law", shooting down the proposal to revamp the Squad when he (Heerah) broached it with him, "reinforces his appropriateness and his independence to deal with a matter such as this".
The AG said to the extent there may be wrongdoing that may touch on criminal law, there was no one else who could investigate, according to law.
"If there is a criminal offence, for example, someone was trying to extort money from the State or the Ministry of National Security or blackmail someone, or there is misconduct in office on the part of a government official, if there is any criminal offence, the only entity that can investigate is the Commissioner of Police," the Attorney General stated.
He said if there is no allegation of wrongdoing by the Commissioner, why were people saying it is wrong for his office to investigate.
He dismissed the suggestion that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) should conduct the probe, saying it could not investigate the commission of criminal offences.
"The Police Complaints Authority has no jurisdiction to investigate criminal offences," he said, adding that there was no allegation of police brutality.
"It would be stretching the jurisdiction of the PCA and taking it into virgin terrority," to have that body conduct such a probe, Ramlogan stated.
The Attorney General recalled that last year the CoP was investigating other allegations involving Government ministers, including the line minister.
He cited the call for the CoP to investigate the FIFA allegation of the payment of bribes to Caribbean Football Union officials in Trinidad and Tobago.
Ramlogan also stressed that the Minister was not the Commissioner's boss, since he could not hire, fire or discipline him. The Police Service Commission had such powers.
He said this was not an issue for a Joint Select Committee of Parliament to investigate either.
Asked whether Government waited too long (one month after allegations first surfaced) to order a probe, Ramlogan said the Prime Minister waited until she had all the facts and "rightly so".
"To have acted before that would have been to have acted prematurely," he said.
On the issue of the bill to precept soldiers in the fight against crime, Ramlogan said while he did not think it required a special majority, he was discussing with the Chief Parliamentary Council the idea that, "out of an abundance of caution", the legislation should be passed by a special majority.
It would be a three-fifths majority which Government has and therefore it would not need Opposition support.
On the proposal to scrap trial by jury, Ramlogan said in many countries in the world this had been abolished since the 1960s and it had not affected the quality of justice.
"In our country we have a real problem with the intimidation and harassment of jurors," he said. "The defendant is sitting there and all his friends are there (in the courtroom) eyeballing the jurors. Someone may go outside the (jurors') son or daughter's school and wave to them...Who is going to convict?
"The psychology of the jury trial in our system...sometimes leads us to question the integrity of the verdict we are getting for the violent criminal offences. It is a real problem. We have had jurors who complained of harrassment—both covert or overt attempts to get to them. So we cannot avoid the reality. And let us be frank, most people don't want to serve on a jury... the list of applications for exemptions is growing and employers don't want to sent their workers. When you sequester a jury for a murder trial, people don't want to be away from their families."
Ramlogan added the country already reposes confidence in judges via the appeal system.
"Let's give it (trial by judge) a try," he said.
On the issue of Hafizool Ali-Mohammed, commissioner on the 1990 coup enquiry, whose credential have been questioned, Ramlogan said Mohammed had taken legal action against the newspaper which printed stories challenging his qualifications.
Therefore, since it is before the court, he (Ramlogan) did not wish to comment on it nor was he proposing to change the membership of that Commissioner of Enquiry.