Ramlogan: Curious Warner was on fact-finding mission
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday defended the presence of National Security Minister Jack Warner at a meeting that included gang leaders despite the Government's strict policy against it.
Though Ramlogan stressed that the Government did not negotiate with criminals, he said Warner was "naturally curious" and on a "fact-finding mission" when he attended a meeting with the gang leaders, Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing and Public Services Association president Watson Duke.
Ramlogan also distanced the Government from the subject of the meeting, saying that neither Cabinet nor Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was made aware of what that meeting was about.
"The subject of the meeting was not an initiative by the Government. The matter was never raised at Cabinet to be considered much less reviewed as a matter of policy. Hence there is no reason that any Government minister has to or ever will meet or treat with criminals holding the country to ransom," he said.
While Ramlogan and Warner toured the Military Tattoo Village at Woodford Square in Port of Spain on Wednesday, Warner revealed that he had dispatched Office of Law Enforcement Policy director Keith Renaud to attend the second planned meeting with the same parties he met with last week at the mayor's office.
Warner said Renaud was expected to prepare a report on the meeting for him. Warner had said then he would not turn his back on the requests coming out of that meeting and even would involve the Attorney General's office and the Ministry of Justice if it came to that.
"There is no question of the Attorney General's office or the Government for that matter considering, far less meeting any 'demands' made by gang leaders or criminals in our society. It has never been contemplated and will not be considered," he said.
Ramlogan said Warner should not be criticised for his actions.
"But one can well understand Mr Warner's curiosity and desire for information. Had he met with gang leaders, that would have been a different story but he was gathering information and possible criminal intelligence that may be useful in the fight against crime," Ramlogan said.
"The Government position to the meeting and greeting gang leaders and criminals is very clear: we do not negotiate with criminals and that position remains unchanged," he said.
"As Attorney General I will not countenance far less entertain any requests from criminals and gang leaders. The rule of law must respected," he said.
In a brief telephone interview yesterday, Renaud would only say that he "had no comment".
"I am not in a position to say anything," he said.
When asked about the report to Warner, Renaud said, "I cannot say anything."