IT was Justice Minister Herbert Volney who brought a note to Cabinet which sought the early proclamation of certain sections of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
The Sunday Express learnt that in August the lengthy note was brought to Cabinet and it dealt with the proclamation of the Act in its entirety.
However, the Sunday Express was told that "neatly tucked into that note was the early proclamation of Section 34".
"It was not flagged for the attention of Cabinet as the note primarily dealt with the proclamation of the whole Act. It was very inconspicuous," said a Cabinet source.
It was also Volney, Cabinet sources confirmed to the Sunday Express, who forwarded the note for early proclamation as he was the minister who brought the bill to Parliament.
On September 2, the Sunday Express exclusively reported on the proclamation of certain sections of the Act that came into force on August 31.
The passage of Section 34 meant that a judge could dismiss a matter if it had languished in the court for more than ten years.
The Act, which subsequently became law, allowed two financiers of the United National Congress (UNC)—Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson—to apply to the country's courts to have their matters dismissed.
The possibility of Galbaransingh and Ferguson walking free from this country's courts was condemned by the United States Government which issued a statement last week, saying it was still seeking to extradite the businessmen to face its country's courts.
But in a swift action, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar convened Parliament in emergency session last week to repeal the Act.
Last Friday, President George Maxwell Richards signed the proclamation order repealing Section 34.
Other people and entities who sought to have their matters dismissed were former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung, Ameer Edoo, Maritime Life General Insurance Co Ltd executives John Henry Smith and Barbara Gomes; Maritime Finance; Northern Construction Ltd; Fidelity Finance Leasing Company Ltd; and former government ministers Carlos John and Russell Huggins.
John was Volney's campaign manager in his successful bid for the St Joseph seat for the UNC in the May 2010 general election.
Earlier last week Volney admitted that he met with Galbaransingh two Saturdays ago during a retreat which his ministry held at the Galbaransingh-owned Grafton Beach Resort in Tobago after Opposition MP Colm Imbert raised the issue in Parliament.
Yesterday, Volney blamed the failure of Galbaransingh and Ferguson to be tried in the country's courts, on the failure of the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard to file an indictment.
He told the Sunday Express in a brief telephone interview early yesterday that the DPP's office had from December last year to August 28 to file an indictment but failed to do so.
"Why are all these old matters not being indicted? There is no oversight over the DPP. He's the man to prosecute. Unless he identifies a case to be brought up, it sits in abeyance," he said.
In Volney's view, both Galbaransingh and Ferguson have already been convicted in the court of public opinion.
"What has the DPP done to ensure that they get a fair trail?" he asked.
Volney believes last week's repeal did not address "historic cases" and these are matters which the DPP sits on.
"That's where Section 34 would have come in. Submissions could have been made to clear the backlog. As a former judge, I have knowledge of this. Few people can do the job I do. I know it. I have done it," he said.
Questioned on his thoughts about calls for his resignation, Volney observed that he was a sitting MP and he served at the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
"I don't see that there is a groundswell of opposition. I think the public perception is that the Parliament overlooked the possible repercussions of a good, well intentioned law, but mindful of the opposition it was repealed," he said.
Volney could not be reached later yesterday for comment on his action to take the note to Cabinet for the early proclamation of the Act.
Asked to comment on whether the DPP was at fault, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan yesterday told the Sunday Express the DPP has explained his role and he was satisfied with it.
And DPP Gaspard, who has expressed concern over the proclamation, declined further comment yesterday on Volney's view about him.
He was content to confine his statement to that made on Section 34.
The DPP had stated it was not his intent to forgo prosecution in the Piarco 1 case.
However, because there was an overlap of defendants with Piarco 2, and there was obvious oppression and impossibility in having them before the High Court on indictment while the preliminary enquiry was ongoing, he had opted instead to have one joint trial to save judicial time and abridge costs.
Ramlogan explained that Section 34 was proclaimed earlier than the entire Act because it was a logical precursor.
"Once the law was passed, you needed to trim the body of cases that would have been going to the High Court. It was specifically to trim the fat in the courts so that pending cases can be advanced," he told the Sunday Express.