Kamla calls on CoP to probe Al-Rawi in 'Nelsongate' scandal

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi. - File photo
Rural Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi. - File photo

IN the constituency of San Fernando West, where he is the sitting MP, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar called on Monday night for police to charge Faris Al-Rawi for witness-tampering in the Vincent Nelson matter.

Addressing supporters on a political platform at Naparima College, she also called for the Commissioner of Police to investigate the roles played by senior attorneys Douglas Mendes and Gilbert Peterson, who assisted in drafting the indemnity agreement granted to Nelson.

She said the details of the case, published in Newsday over the weekend, clearly demonstrated witness-tampering.

In the circumstances, she asked, “Why is Faris Al-Rawi still sitting as a Cabinet minister in the Government of TT?”

Referring to the collapsed case against former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and former opposition senator Gerald Ramdeen when Nelson refused to continue as a state witness, Persad-Bissessar said the role of then-AG Al Rawi clearly demonstrated witness-tampering.

“The Nelson indemnity scandal exposes a corrupt and political scheme of political persecution by the PNM,” she charged.

She said this case was tantamount to bribing a person to give evidence against politicians to "really get rid of two very brilliant people.”

She read excerpts from the Newsday report, which she contended was the biggest story of the weekend, but was overshadowed by the Privy Council ruling, outlining promises made by Al-Rawi to Nelson to support her claims.

“He promised to pay Nelson in return for his make-up evidence against Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen.”

DPP Roger Gaspard, who discontinued the case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen, has defended his position that he had no prior knowledge of the indemnity.

Persad-Bissessar said, “Faris promised, in writing, to pay for his lost years that he was preventing Nelson from practising law. He further promised to pay damages.

“He promised Nelson to ask the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) to give up jurisdiction to TT, and he promised an assurance if he gave further statements, he would only be prosecuted in TT and not in the UK, and therefore he would face no jail time there, and that he would face no jail time here.

“These are promises made by a sitting AG of TT, none other than Faris Al-Rawi, the MP for San Fernando West, who also alleged, in his promises, assurances that no confiscation order would be made against (Nelson).

“They promised him a presidential pardon a month after he was sentenced. They promised him full monetary compensation arising from the disclosure of the statement in the British NCA.”

Given the facts, Persad-Bissessar said, “This is a clear case of witness-tampering. The TTPS must answer why those involved in this witness-tampering scandal have not been charged.

“Why has Faris not been charged for witness-tampering?

“Why have PNM Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and Gilbert Peterson not been investigated? Because we are told they are the ones who wrote up this indemnity agreement.”

“I call upon the CoP to answer why these men are not being made to account. Is it because the hierarchy of the police service does not see these articles about ‘Nelsongate’ scandal, that they only rush in to investigate when they see someone connected to the UNC?”

Newsday sought comments from Mendes and Al-Rawi on Persad-Bissessar's statements, via WhatsApp, but no responses were forthcoming.

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"Kamla calls on CoP to probe Al-Rawi in ‘Nelsongate’ scandal"

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