FOUR police officers who were suspended as part of an investigation into the return of more than $22 million in cash seized from Drugs Sou Sou (DSS), last year have received the court’s permission to challenge Police Commissioner Gary Griffith's appointment of two foreign investigators.
On Monday, Justice Nadia Kangaloo granted the officers leave to pursue their judicial review claim against the commissioner.
The officers claim the appointment of the two police officers from Barbados was illegal, since the Special Reserve Police Act did not give the commissioner the power to appoint anyone as SRPs to do a criminal investigation.
They allege that the catalyst behind the appointments was the Government. They relied on statements made by the Prime Minister at a post-budget public meeting and a press release from the Minister of National Security speaking of the hiring of the two foreign cops. The officers also referred to statements made by Griffith, who reportedly said he welcomed “what the prime minister has done,” and that: “It will assist me greatly.”
In their application, the officers – an inspector, a sergeant, and two police constables – say the commissioner acted irrationally and surrendered his independent statutory discretion to either the Minister of National Security or the Prime Minister in making the appointments.
The application said the appointment of the two Barbadian officers was not a “genuine exercise of discretion” by the commissioner. It said the “impetus, genesis and driving force” (behind it) lay with the Executive and the two officers were appointed at the behest of politicians.
The officers are claiming the investigators should be independent and insulated from political control, and SRPs are generally usually used to help supplement police officers with surveillance and physical presence.
"It was not intended to create a parallel police force to conduct criminal investigations under general direction and/or order of the executive and/or the Minister of National Security," the application said.
They also said one of them was told the report on the investigation was to be submitted directly to the minister.
They will ask the court to quash the appointments, which were made in December, and declare them unlawful.
The application also noted that the four were challenging the exercise of Griffith's discretion while maintaining their innocence in relation to the overall probe.
"Suffice it to say that the intended claimants maintain that at all material times they have fulfilled their professional duties to the best of their ability and in accordance with the law," the application said.
On September 22 last year, police raided the DSS’s headquarters at Kathleen Warner Drive in La Horquetta and seized some $22 million in cash.
The money was taken to the La Horquetta police station and returned to DSS officials. Allegations were made against the officers relating to the return of the money, and the four were suspended. Eleven others were transferred.
There were subsequent raids on DSS and lesser amounts of cash were seized. Those sums of money are being held as part of a court order.
The investigations into the return of the money are led by a team of officers headed by Deputy Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob.
The four suspended police officers are being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, and Rhea Khan.