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Saturday 22 September 2018
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Roody vs Rowley: Moonilal taking PM to court over ‘racist’ comment

Roody vs Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has retained Senior Counsel Israel Khan to initiate legal action against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for allegations Rowley made against him on Friday.

“He (Rowley) will face legal action on three fronts and by Monday we should have our documents in order. As soon as he comes back from his prostate examination, he will face a legal examination,” Moonilal told Sunday Newsday.

“He will face a legal onslaught from me. We will not allow him to get away with what we believe to be misbehaviour in public office.”

Moonilal said apart from suing the Prime Minister for slander, he will also seek to bring a constitutional motion against the State for violation of his constitutional rights.

During a news conference at the Piarco International Airport on Friday, shortly before his departure for the United States, where he is due to undertake a medical check-up, Rowley waded into the Oropouche East MP for comments made by the latter in relation to the arrest of former attorney general Anand Ramlogan.

Ramlogan has been charged with obstructing justice by using threats and bribery in October 2014 to persuade incoming Police Complaints Authority director David West to not give evidence in Ramlogan’s defamation case against then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley. He is also accused of misbehaving in public office by improperly endeavouring for West not to testify on Rowley’s behalf. The matter has been adjourned to January.

Rowley, at the briefing, had accused Moonilal of making comments which he said were meant to “dog whistle” to certain people by suggesting the government was using its power to persecute people of East Indian descent. He claimed Moonilal had deemed Ramlogan’s arrest was oppression by the government.

The Prime Minister also alleged that Moonilal was under investigation by the police in relation to the alleged mishandling of more than $400 million at the Estate Management and Business Development Company Limited in August 2015, prior to the last general election.

He claimed the Attorney General’s office and a State enterprise had gone to court to complain about eight or ten people, including Moonilal, who were named in connection with the matter.

Moonilal yesterday said Khan was drafting a letter to the Commissioner of Police to inquire as to whether or not he is involved in any police investigation as a suspect or person of interest.

“But more importantly, in light of this now, to either confirm or (deny) the information of Dr Rowley that I am involved in an investigation and I will be charged and appear in court, because that is what he said, ‘When I appear in court.’” The Opposition MP said a constitutional motion against the State was also on the cards.

“We are also looking at a constitutional motion against the State for violation of my constitutional rights when the prime minister prejudiced and seeks to influence any impending police action,” he said. On his bid to seek damages for slander, Moonilal said: “We have his statements on tape and I am a public figure and my image and my character are important tools in my trade as a politician and former minister. My character, my reputation are important in my trade.’

Moonilal said Rowley, by virtue of his allegations, had damaged his reputation in telling the country that “I am the subject of a police investigation and I will be charged and appear in court.”

“That has caused serious stress and frustration to myself, my family and my friends and Dr Rowley must answer in court, how he knows that to be a fact at this time.”

Moonilal said Rowley’s actions were tantamount to misbehaviour in public office. “To use the office of prime minister to pronounce on investigations and to influence and direct the police as to what they should do, I think he went over the line here,” he said.

“He (Rowley) made racists statements against me and sought to castigate me as a racist. He said I blew a dog whistle. But he alone blew the whistle.”

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