Police chief Paul oversees the raid of the CJ's chambers
By Jada Loutoo
Fraud Squad detectives yesterday seized several confidential documents from the chambers of Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma, as investigations continued into allegations that he attempted to influence the outcome of the criminal trial against former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
Yesterday's seizure was conducted one day after detectives obtained a warrant to search Sharma's chambers on the third floor of the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain.
Police Commissioner Trevor Paul witnessed the hour-and-a-half-long search conducted by acting Insp Raphael Romany and WPCpl Charmain Williams.
Paul's presence created a stir at the Hall of Justice.
Sources said as the most senior cop, he went to ensure the procedure was conducted by the book.
Appeal Court Judge Stanley John and Sharma's lawyers Desmond Allum, SC, and Rajiv Persad were also present at yesterday morning's search, as well as senior judiciary staff members.
Statements were taken from those who witnessed the search.
Sharma is out of the country attending an international judicial conference in Prague, Czech Republic, and is expected back on May 22.
On Thursday, police, armed with the warrant signed by Senior Magistrate Ejenny Espinet, swooped down on Sharma's Chambers but left empty-handed, only to return yesterday.
Sources said the police "left with the documents they came for."
Just after 2 pm, detectives returned to the CJ's chambers, although the purpose for their second visit was uncertain.
Investigators remained tight-lipped about yesterday's search which formed part of investigations launched after Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls complained to Attorney General John Jeremie about Sharma.
It is alleged that Sharma attempted to convince Mc Nicolls to clear Panday of the charges, a complaint similar to that made against Sharma in 2004 when it was then alleged that Sharma exerted pressure on Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson and Attorney General John Jeremie to drop a murder charge that had been brought against Prof Vijay Naraynsingh.
The Chief Justice had taken the Prime Minister to court over the latter's decision to advise President George Maxwell Richards to appoint a tribunal to investigate his actions in office and has managed to block another attempt to have him removed from office, filing for judicial review of a similar decision by Manning.
AG's office distances itself from search
The Office of the Attorney General has distanced itself from yesterday's search of the offices of Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma.
"The Honourable Attorney General does not, as a matter of course, get involved in police investigations and since referring the matter of the allegations and counter-allegations made by the Chief Magistrate and Chief Justice respectively to the Commissioner of Police, has had no involvement in this matter," a statement from the AG's office said.
The statement also said that after the AG learnt of the search warrant, Jeremie "in keeping with established professional courtesy and protocol" informed court executive administrator Gary Kelly, after attempting to reach Sharma himself.
The AG's office also responded to a claim by the CJ's lawyers that Jeremie had refused to provide copies of statements and a summary of the allegations against their client.
"The Attorney General is in no position to provide copies of any statements or correspondence to any of the subjects of those investigations since to do so would be to interfere in the work of the police," the statement said.
Unfair attack on Jeremie - lawyers
At least one group of lawyers has disassociated themselves from statements made recently by a senior member of the Criminal Bar Association.
Lawyers attached to the Justitia Omnibus Chambers of Senior Counsel Israel Khan knocked colleague Desmond Allum, SC, for his referral to Attorney General John Jeremie's attainment of "silk" in recent statements.
Khan, Dana Seetahal, SC, Dawn Mohan and Keith Scotland, all of whom are attached to Khan's Chambers, said the statements were not appropriate and amounted to a personal attack on the AG.
The lawyers labelled the statements were unbecoming and uncalled for.
"We don't see that the statement of the AG, even with implied innuendo, could have satisfied any political comment of that nature," the lawyers said.
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