Monday, January 22, 2018

PM: Partap innocent until proven guilty

...but hopes DPP moves as quickly on other cases


facing charges: Collin Partap

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Even as she congratulated Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard for moving quickly to advise the police to charge her former minister, Collin Partap, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said he was "innocent until proven guilty".

While she was restrained in commenting on what she said was a matter for the police, Persad-Bissessar said she hoped the DPP will act as quickly on other matters that have been outstanding for years.

She spoke at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima during the first of a series of children's Christmas parties she has hosted since taking office in 2010.

Instructions to charge Partap, a former minister in the Ministry of National Security and the present MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla, were issued by Gaspard last Monday.

The charges arose out of an incident outside the Zen nightclub on Keate Street, Port of Spain, on August 25 where the former minister was said to have refused to submit to a police request to take a breathalyser test.

Partap was subsequently fired by Persad-Bissessar.

Senior police officers confirmed to the Express last Friday that a file from the DPP's office had been received, but they were initially unsure that the charges were clearly outlined.

Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams told CNC3 News yesterday that he was out of the country and only became aware of the DPP's instructions when he returned to office on Friday.

The police were said to have been working on delivering a summons to Partap up to Friday night.

The Prime Minister said she was not informed of the move against Partap.

"No one told me before or after the fact," Persad-Bissessar said. "I read it in the newspaper, just as you did."

Persad-Bissessar said Partap was "innocent until proven guilty", but in the interest of democracy, she did not want to trespass on the institution of the police.

She added: "But one really must congratulate the Director of Public Prosecutions. He has worked really rapidly on getting this matter before the police."

Persad-Bissessar said she hoped other matters that have been outstanding for years will also come to the fore.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts, speaking before the Prime Minister, said the DPP must show the same urgency in the matter of former chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) Calder Hart.

"I am glad that he was so speedy to charge my colleague," Roberts said.

"But what's good for the goose must also be good for the gander. How come he is taking so long to move on Calder Hart?"

National Security Minister Jack Warner, speaking to CNC3 last night, said he, too, hoped to see the DPP move as quickly on other outstanding matters.

Partap could not be reached by phone for comment yesterday.