Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ramesh on Sec 34 campaign

Former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said yesterday he will soon be hitting the roads across the country to educate and inform people on the Section 34 fiasco which resulted in the firing of former justice minister Herbert Volney.

Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Offences) Act 2011 was proclaimed on August 30, paving the way for a legal avenue for people who were charged ten years ago and not prosecuted to have their matters dismissed.

Many believe the clause was singled out to benefit UNC financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson who are charged with corruption offences arising out of the Piarco Airport Development Project.

The Parliament moved to repeal Section 34 and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fired Volney, who she blamed for misleading the Cabinet relating to getting consensus from the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard and the Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

The Opposition, Non Governmental Organsiation (NGOs) and other civic groups have protested against the Section 34 fiasco and have further called for the removal of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and National Security Minister Jack Warner.

Yesterday, full-page ads were published in the newspaper with a photo of Maharaj meeting former prime minister Patrick Manning in 2001 for talks on joining forces, and another photo of Maharaj, president general of the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union Ancel Roget and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley at last Friday's protest march in the capital city.

"Another done deal Ramesh?" questioned the ad which was paid for and approved by "the activist" of the People's Partnership.

Maharaj told the Express by phone that as a citizen and former politician he strongly believed he had a duty to fight against corruption.

"Even if it is my own political party, I think I have a duty to my country to fight that aggressively to protect our citizens even if it means angering my political party or its followers," he said.

The ad, he said, demonstrated that the new political culture promised by the People's Partnership was dying and that Cabinet members would ignore corruption in the interest of their colleagues.

"Within the next week I will be going through the length and breath of Trinidad and Tobago on any platform or my platform to talk about official corruption in the Government and bad governance," he said.

The Prime Minister, he said, has still not explained why Section 34 was proclaimed early.

On the public platform, Maharaj said he would also be dealing with Congress of the People (COP) political leader Prakash Ramadhar's statement that he (Ramadhar) could not recollect meeting with Maharaj in recent times.

Maharaj claimed that Ramadhar came to his office and met him following the demolition of the re-route movement campsite earlier this year, which was overseen by Warner.

He said his office records as well as telephone calls would verify that Ramadhar came to his office and they had held a meeting.