Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Director David West and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith are all expected to face intense cross-examination when Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan’s witness tampering case eventually comes up for trial.
Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, who is leading Ramlogan’s legal team, indicated her intention to question the three office holders in the preliminary inquiry and the trial of the case, as it came up for hearing before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Elder asked the court to reserve at least a week for her to complete her questioning of the trio as she said she would most likely need two days each to ask the questions needed to advance her client’s defence to the charges.
During the hearing, Busby-Earle-Caddle took issue with the fact that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) attempted to file four new witness statements in the case when it was scheduled to submit submissions on evidential objections over statements that were previously filed. The new statements are from Griffith, West and retired Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Harold Phillip, who led the investigation into the allegations.
Stating that she was confused by the approach adopted by the DPP’s Office, Busby-Earle-Caddle noted that it had previously been in breach of case management deadlines set by her.
Elder used the opportunity to point out that her team had complied with all of the court’s orders and criticised the DPP’s Office for not being ready to proceed with the case, which began in January, last year.
Despite her reservations with the unorthodox procedure, Busby-Earle-Caddle still granted prosecutor Mauricia Joseph until next Monday to file the statements. She also gave Ramlogan’s legal team the opportunity to file additional objections against aspects of the new statements.
The case was adjourned to September 30.
Ramlogan is accused of obstructing justice by using threats and bribery to persuade West to not give evidence in his (Ramlogan) defamation case against then Opposition Leader and current Prime Minister Dr Keith 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 Griffith 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.
In May, Ramlogan and former UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen were implicated in a separate State legal fees kickback scam.
While the police investigation into that conspiracy also reportedly commenced almost three years ago, Ramlogan and Ramdeen were only detained and questioned in late April.
Ramdeen, Ramlogan and British Queen’s Counsel Vincent Nelson were charged with conspiring together to receive, conceal and transfer criminal property namely the rewards given to Ramlogan by Nelson for being appointed to represent the State in several cases; conspiring together to corruptly give Ramlogan a percentage of the funds and conspiring with each other to make Ramlogan misbehave in public office by receiving the funds.
Nelson, who has Jamaican roots, has signed a plea agreement deal with the DPP’s Office to plead guilty and testify against the duo.
Last month, High Court judge Malcolm Holdip approved the agreement.
Holdip will now have to decide if he also accepts the suggested sentence, agreed upon by the DPP’s Office and Nelson’s attorneys.
In the event that Holdip believes that the suggested sentence is disproportionate, based on the circumstances of the case, he may substitute another which he thinks is more appropriate when the case comes up for hearing, on January 16, next year.
The preliminary inquiry into the charges against Ramlogan and Ramdeen is expected to come up for hearing three days before the next hearing of Ramlogan’s witness tampering case.
Even with the charges against him, Ramlogan has continued to practice law,as the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association can only institute disciplinary proceedings against him in the event that he eventually convicted in either of the cases or in both.
Ramlogan is also being represented by Alvin Pariagsingh and Russell Warner.