Friday, January 19, 2018

No protected State witness killed in 3 years


LISTENING: Attorney General Anand Ramlogan speaks to pupil Leah Lewis yesterday at Iere High School in Siparia during the annual career day. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

Mark Fraser

NOT a single State witness participating in the Witness Protection Programme has been killed in the past three years, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.

Ramlogan said the decision to come under State protection was solely based on the witness, and some did not want their liberty taken away.

Ramlogan was speaking with reporters yesterday at Iere High School, Siparia, where he attended a school career day.

He was asked about the murder of State witness Ricaldo Sanchez, whose body was found on Monday, the day he was due to testify in a murder enquiry in Siparia.

Ramlogan said: “The Witness Protection Programme is alive but you cannot compel somebody to go into the Witness Protection Programme. They must agree voluntarily to go into the Witness Protection Programme and people sometimes, they don’t want to restrict their liberties”.

He said: “They do not wish to go into the Witness Protection Programme.

In the last three years no one who is in the Witness Protection Programme was murdered. The people who you have been hearing about (being killed) are people who are not in the Witness Protection Programme. Either their risk and threat assessment was not sufficiently high to justify it, or alternatively they did not want to go on it and that’s the reality. “

Ramlogan also said Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley should focus on the rights of innocent persons instead of the rights of criminals, and work with the government to keep the crime rate down.

Government is pursuing the implementation of the death penalty, the Bail Amendment Act, the abolition of jury trials for violent and dangerous criminal offences and the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill.

Ramlogan: “I am convinced had the PNM supported the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence and Police Complaints) Bill today, the crime rate would not have been what it is. The reality is, it is precisely because the soldiers are trained in such a rugged and strong manner that the bandits will fear them perhaps more than they do the police.”

He said: “All we are hearing from the PNM is the rights of the bandits, the rights of the prisoners. It is time we start talking about the rights of the innocent law-abiding citizens and not just about the rights of the bandits”.

Ramlogan also told reporters he had filed a lawsuit against his former colleague Jack Warner for making “wild, reckless and damaging” allegations against him.

He said because the matter was before the court he did not want to say much.