By Multimedia Desk
May 20, 2015 – trinidadexpress.com
FORMER Attorney General and senior counsel Ramesh Lawerence Maharaj on Wednesday issued a statement related to the position taken by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that she has been vindicated by the letter issued by the Integrity Commission, which terminated its investigation into emailgate. Maharaj’s position is that the letter is not a vindication, and it was premature of her to make such a determination.
1. a) The statements made by the Integrity Commission do not vindicate the Prime Minister and the actions of her government in respect of emailgate. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions through the Director of Public Prosecutions, cited a police report sent by the lead investigator Superintendent Baldeo Nanan to the Deputy Commissioner of Police Glen Hacket which according to the Deputy D.P.P. show that neither the Prime Minister nor the former Attorney General Mr. Anand Ramlogan has been cleared in respect of allegations of emailgate.
b) The Deputy DPP went further and stated that the police investigations did not so far result in any finding that the emails were or were not sent and that the investigations were not limited to whether the emails emanated from the service providers from the named individuals or whether they were sent in September 2012 as stated on the face of the emails.
c) She made it clear that a wider investigation was in progress which included Investigations whether:
“There may have been acts by particular persons which amount to misconduct in office. The investigation necessarily includes an examination of events outside the four corners of the purported email correspondence.”
d) The Deputy D.P.P. informed us that the USA Department of Justice was assisting in the investigations and referred to a letter dated the 29th January 2015 from the Acting Director of the USA Department of Justice sent to the Central Authority at the Office of the Attorney General. The US Department of Justice took steps under the Mutual Legal Assistance. In Criminal Matters Treaty which it entered into with Trinidad and Tobago for it to get information to assist with determining the authenticity of the emails and also whether the contents of the Emails were true.
2. a) It is clear therefore that serious police investigations are in progress into emailgate which are supported by the Office of the D.P.P. and the US Department of Justice. The Integrity Commission by its statement yesterday has admitted that it does not have the evidence which both the D.P.P. and the police have at this time.
b) This is understandable because both the D.P.P. and the Police Service have wider powers and better investigative machinery to get the evidence they have at this time. The D.P.P. has the power under Section 90 of the Consitution to commence any prosecution in this country. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service also has widespread powers under Part V111 of the Police Service Act to investigate and detect all crime in our country.
c) The Integrity Commission however has limited investigative powers as set out in Section (5) of the Integrity in Public Life Act Chapter 22:01. It conducts mainly investigations to verify the accuracy of the declarations made by persons under the Integrity in Public Life Act and in respect of persons falling under the purview of the Commission, to determine whether they are involved in conduct it considers dishonest or corrupt.
d) Under the Integrity in Public Life Act and in particular Section(17) the Integrity Commission is required to refer matters to the Director of Public Prosecutions for him to take whatever action the DPP considers necessary. It is clear therefore in respect of criminal prosecutions, the DPP and his office is paramount among State agencies in its power to prosecute. The Integrity Commission’s power to persecute is subject to the powers of the D.P.P. in Section (90) of the Constitution.
e) This means that in any given case even if the Integrity Commission decides not to prosecute a matter or the Police decide not to prosecute a matter, the D.P.P. has by Section 90, the omnipotent power to prosecute.
3. a) The Deputy D.P.P. cautioned the Prime Minister in making public statements in respect of the contents of the letter from the US Department of Justice dated the 29th January, 2015. The disclosure of the contents of that letter violated the Mutual Legal Assistance Criminal Matters Treaty between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America. A condition of the Treaty is that the contents of the letter were to be used only in the investigation and prosecution of persons and offences for which legal assistance was requested from the USA.
b) The effect of the breach of this Treaty means that the United States Department of Justice can decide to withdraw its assistance to Trinidad and Tobago in these investigations. If that is done, there would be a perversion of the course of justice and an obstruction of justice by those responsible. This will not be in the public interest. It was in that context that the Deputy DPP cautioned the Prime Minister in respect of the actions of her government which put at risk the US Department of Justice withdrawing their assistance to help Trinidad and Tobago in these investigations.
c) A high powered police investigation underpinned with the assistance of the D.P.P. and the USA Department of Justice is being conducted into emailgate. The public of Trinidad and Tobago is entitled to know the truth of emailgate. Nothing ought to be done by anyone to obstruct the course of justice so that the people may get to know the truth about emailgate.
d) Since there is no vindication of the Prime Minister in respect of emailgate, the Prime Minister must wait until the police investigations are completed to know the result of the investigations. It is not only premature for her to make such public statements, but her public statements on the issues as a Prime Minister undermine the police investigations, subvert the office of D.P.P., put at risk the obstruction and perversion of justice and the USA withdrawing its support and assistance in these investigations.
Ramesh L. Maharaj S.C.