Ramlogan’s witness-tampering trial on hold as defence raises a constitutional point

Anand Ramlogan
Anand Ramlogan

FORMER attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, will not go on trial this week on allegations of witness tampering as he has, instead, raised an issue only the High Court can determine.

As a result, the trial for the inquiry before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle has been put on hold.

In February, the Chief Magistrate had set aside a week, starting July 11, for the hearing of the matter.

On Monday, Ramlogan’s attorney, Pamela Elder, SC, referred to an application under section 14(4) of the Constitution.

That section reads: Where in any proceedings in any court other than the High Court or the Court of Appeal any question arises as to the contravention of any of the provisions of this Chapter, the person presiding in that court may and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court unless in his opinion the raising of the question is merely frivolous or vexatious.

The lead attorney for the State, Queen’s Counsel Edward Jenkins said it was clear section 14(4) was mandatory in nature and the State did not want to prejudice Ramlogan’s rights.

He said it would be “appropriate and fair” to have the matter referred to the High Court for determination.

Ramlogan is said to be questioning whether the law at the time gave the police the authority to gather certain evidence it intends to use in his prosecution and is alleging a breach of his rights.

Earle-Caddle granted the application and said she intended to immediately refer the matter to the High Court.

“A new issue has arisen and having regard to the application by the defence and concession by the State, the court is referring the matter to the High Court.

She then adjourned the matter to September 19 for a status report on proceedings in the superior court.

Ramlogan was charged in 2017 on charges of misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice.

The allegation against him surrounds an allegation by the director of the Police Complaints Authority, David West, that he was approached by Ramlogan to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation case against then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in 2014.

He is accused of obstructing justice by using threats and bribery to persuade West to not give evidence in his (Ramlogan) defamation case against Rowley.

He is also accused of misbehaving in public office by improperly endeavouring for West not to testify on Rowley’s behalf.

The offences allegedly occurred in October 2014, while former police commissioner Gary Griffith, who is also a witness in the case, was serving as national security minister.

Shortly after former acting police commissioner Stephen Williams initiated an investigation into the allegations in February 2015, then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar advised the President to revoke Ramlogan and Griffith’s appointments.

West, who was expected to give evidence at the virtual trial on Monday from one of the Judiciary’s virtual access court centres, was told that the matter was going to be referred to the High Court. Also expected to testify on Monday was attorney Vanessa Gopaul.

Also representing Ramlogan is attorney Russell Warner while appearing with Jenkins for the State was deputy DPP Tricia Hudlin-Cooper.


"Ramlogan’s witness-tampering trial on hold as defence raises a constitutional point"

More in this section