‘Govt, Ish, Steve too close for comfort’
By Clint Chan Tack Monday, September 17 2012
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Rowley's rally: Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley rallies the public to march with him from the Red House to President's House tomorrow. Rowley's wife...
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said there were too many ties between Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Justice Minister Herbert Volney to legal matters involving former United National Congress (UNC) financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
He attributed these ties to Government’s hasty move last week to have Parliament repeal Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011.
After condemning Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for failing to explain why Government took that action, Rowley called upon all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago who are concerned about this issue to join him outside the Red House at 1 pm tomorrow for a march to President’s House in St Ann’s where a petition condemning the Government’s actions will be delivered to President George Maxwell Richards.
Speaking at the People’s National Movement’s ( PNM) Diego Martin West constituency conference at the Point Cumana Regional Complex yesterday, Rowley declared, “They have crossed the line. A line has been drawn in the sand. They have crossed the Rubicon and they are coming face to face against the people of TT. I want to call on every innocent, right-thinking citizen to push back on this Government of TT.”
He called on all citizens who are concerned about Government’s failure to explain why it repealed Section 34, to meet him outside of the Red House tomorrow. Declaring this was a signal to the Government that “what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong,” Rowley disclosed a petition will be signed on the way to President’s House.
PNM supporters cheered as Rowley declared: “The President of this country must know that the people of this country are under attack and the Government is taking steps to facilitate criminal conduct and to allow criminals to walk free.”
Urging all persons who would be participating in the march to “wear something red, wear white and black, bring your flags,” Rowley said through the petition the citizens of TT will be asking the President “to tell us please, where do we go from here.”
On September 11, Rowley had threatened there would be a public march if the Government did not convene Parliament to repeal Section 34 which Galbaransingh and Ferguson were using to petition the Supreme Court to dismiss ten-year-old cases against them in relation to the $1.6 billion Piarco airport project which took place under the then UNC government in which Persad- Bissessar served as a Cabinet minister.
“If I am the only man to stand up, I will stand up. If the PNM is the only party to stand up, the PNM will stand up,” Rowley quipped.
The House of Representatives sat in special session on September 12 to repeal Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011. The Senate sat on September 13 to approve the measures taken by the House.
After charging Persad-Bissessar had “outlived her usefulness” as Prime Minister by “abandoning the deck” and not telling the House why Government moved to proclaim Section 34 on Independence Day (August) 31, Rowley renewed his call for Ramlogan and Volney to be fired from the Cabinet.
Saying it was Ramlogan’s Ministry which would have been responsible for advising the President that wanted Section 34 to be proclaimed into law, Rowley said, “It is now clear that the AG has a conflict of interest in terms of how the State can defend itself against legal matters to come.”
Predicting the country will now be exposed to multi-million dollar lawsuits as a result of the Government’s actions with respect to Section 34, and the AG is responsible for choosing the lawyers who will defend the State’s interests, Rowley said, “This country must demand a different AG in office to argue the case for the State as we go forward. Anand Ramlogan cannot be that AG.”Reiterating his questions over how Ramlogan dealt with the extradition matter involving Galbaransingh and Ferguson, Rowley charged Government was not acting in the public interest in this matter because the Parliament might be viewed as taking a decision which might not find favour with the court. In these circumstances, he claimed the public’s only hope would be for the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council “to rule in the public’s interests” when these lawsuits come before them.
Describing Volney as “Champagne Charlie” after Volney said he met with Galbaransingh at Galbaransingh’s hotel in Tobago, Rowley said both Volney and Ramlogan were aware that “specific persons will benefit” if Section 34 was proclaimed into law by itself. He reiterated his claim that Government secretly proclaimed this section in order to give certain persons a head start to have their legal matters dismissed.
Stating the Act’s schedule dealt with “blood crimes” such as murder, Rowley said Section 32 of the Act gave Volney the power to add crimes such as fraud and money laundering to the schedule.
Saying this was not done when Section 34 was proclaimed on August 31, Rowley said up to today, Government cannot give a proper explanation as to why this was done.
Questioning the decisions which Volney took as a High Court judge with respect to the Brad Boyce murder case, Rowley wondered whether the Justice Minister portfolio was specially created for Volney in order to help certain persons escape justice.
He said Government’s actions with respect to Section 34 constitute “the most grievous attack” on the country’s justice system.
Rowley also told supporters that Volney was “in a car” with former UNC government minister Carlos John who went with Volney when Persad-Bissessar interviewed him as a candidate for the St Joseph constituency for which he is now the MP. John, who is one of the Piarco accused, was among the persons invited to a ball which Persad- Bissessar hosted at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on September 1.
PNM vice-chairman Camille Robinson-Regis, in her address to the conference, asked whether Government’s decision to have Section 34 proclaimed into law was a “quid pro quo” to Galbaransingh and Ferguson “for their investment in the UNC.”
During last Wednesday’s sitting of the House, Rowley said a $2 million cheque had been given to the UNC in the 2010 general election campaign by persons who had identified themselves to the courts as UNC financiers.
Persad-Bissessar, who is UNC political leader, last Thursday said she had never seen nor received such a cheque.
Contacted last night, Ramlogan did not respond to Rowley’s questions about his conduct but turned the spotlight back on the PNM political leader.
“Dr Rowley is simply trying to deflect attention and heat from himself as his own supporters are asking him to account for his leadership in the PNM’s supporting vote on Section 34.”
Ramlogan argued that one fact which Rowley could not escape is that whether Section 34 was proclaimed by itself or along with the entire Act, “accused persons would have walked.” Ramlogan claimed tomorrow’s march was about Rowley’s political survival and “a litmus test on his failed leadership.” Volney last night said he had “no comment” in response to Rowley’s statements. Efforts to contact Persad-Bissessar for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.