Thursday, December 14, 2017

Griffith: $2.8m paid to four lawyers for advice during SoE

A total of $2.8 million was paid to four prominent senior counsel—Dana Seetahal, Israel Khan, Pamela Elder and Theodore Guerra for their legal advice to the police during the State of Emergency (SoE) in 2011.

National Security Minister Gary Griffith, in response to a question at the Senate sitting at the International Waterffront Centre, Port of Spain,on Tuesday, disclosed that $2,873,000 was paid to the lawyers who received $500,000 each with $873,000 going towards supporting staff fees.

He said it was the decision of former commissioner of police (CoP) Dr Dwayne Gibbs to hire the a ttorneys to advise the police with respect to the use of the Anti-gang legislation and the gathering and preparation of evidence.

Griffith said the four attorneys rendered their services during the  three-month period of the SoE which lasted from September 6, 

2011 to December 5, 2011.

Seetahal was murdered on May 4, 2014. Her killers are yet to be caught. 

Griffith said the SoE was called because 11 persons were murdered over a 48-hour period.

He said the SoE impacted on the crime levels as during that time frame that year there were 51 homicides as compared to 121 in the previous year.

“It is a fact then that had there not been a State of Emergency there would have been 70-odd murders and if one life could have been saved...and again, I would stand here and stand here proud to say that we did what was required,” said Griffith.

In addition, he said 190 illegal fire arms were seized as well as 13,000 rounds of assorted ammunition, and 39 magazines and the coast guard also intercepted vehicles engaged in illegal bunkering of fuel.

Opposition Senator Camille Robinson Regis asked Griffith how many persons were arrested, convicted and charged under the Anti-gang legislation.

Griffith said 463 persons were arrested and although a large number of them were released, their capture allowed the intelligence unit to build a database on develop profiles in terms of gang networks on these persons. He said there was a difference between intelligence and evidence and although these persons were released, it did not mean they were innocent.

The minister said that during the SoE, there was a reduction across the board in crimes—including a 59 per cent reduction in murder, 40 per cent in wounding and shootings, 28 per cent in kidnapping, 29 per cent in burglary, 45 per cent in robbery, 21 per cent in fraud, 41 per cent in general larceny, 72 per cent in motor vehicles (larceny).