SCIENCE and Technology Minister Dr Rupert Griffith has called on Minister of National Security Jack Warner to take pertinent action against officers within the Police Service "who go beyond the call of duty to abuse and insult members of the public".
Griffith made the call yesterday, moments after he was set free on a charge of using insulting language towards a police officer in March of last year at Dock Road, Port of Spain.
He said throughout the duration of his trial, which lasted eight months, he was able to experience first-hand what members of society would often times experience at the hands of some police officers.
Minutes before, the charge brought against the Minister was dismissed by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in the Port of Spain Eighth Court on the grounds that such a charge did not exist in law.
The exact charge was that on March 8, at Dock Road, Port of Spain, Griffith used insulting language to the annoyance of persons on the said street.
While making his no-case submission in November, Griffith's attorney, Israel Khan SC, said such a charge did not exist and as such, his client cannot be convicted on an invalid charge.
Khan said the charge that should have been laid was that Griffith used insulting language to provoke someone to commit a breach of the peace.
Griffith was accused of using insulting language toward PC Larry Joefield while the officer was in the process of issuing a traffic ticket to the Minister's driver for breaching a red light.
On January 2, when the matter was last called, State prosecutor George Busby made an application to have the charge amended, but Khan objected saying this was not allowed as the defence had already closed its case.
He said the only way such an amendment was allowed was if the matter was still proceeding.
"They (the prosecution) had all the time in the world. Even when I made my no-case submission there was no application for an amendment to the charge. The horse has already bolted," Khan had said.
He had also stated that if such an amendment were made, it would have been a totally new charge against Griffith which would mean that the matter would have to be restarted.
When the matter came up for decision yesterday morning, Busby said the defence never led evidence stating Griffith's good character and whether or not there was any criminal record against him.
In response, Khan said Griffith was charged via summons, meaning that his fingerprints were not taken in order to have a criminal background trace obtained.
Despite this being so, Busby said the defence could have made Griffith step into the witness box and state if he had ever been in trouble with the law "for his own benefit".
This resulted in Khan lashing out at Busby.
"He is farse and out of place to tell me how to proceed with my matter," Khan told the court.
Ayers-Caesar then gave her ruling on whether or not the amendment to the charge should be made.
She said, after listening to submissions by both the defence and the State, there were two issues that arose.
The first issue, she said, was could the amendment be made, and the second was that if the amendment were made would it prejudice Griffith's case.
The magistrate said she came to the view that the amendment could in fact be made, but given the late stage of the matter, she said Griffith would be prejudiced, before proceeding to dismiss the matter.
Outside of the courtroom, Griffith said, he was satisfied with the ruling stating that it was the only ruling that could have been made.
"There was never a valid charge against me so it was the only ruling that the magistrate could have made," he said.
Griffith said he had never been in trouble with the law and was never supposed to appear before a magistrate as he never committed the offence he was accused out.
He said he had the greatest respect for the Police Service, but stated that there was a small group of officers who were bent on abusing and insulting members of the public, and hence, putting the entire service in a bad light.