AG: No murder of witness under State protection
By Richardson Dhalai Thursday, January 16 2014
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Good joke: Students laugh at a joke Attorney General Anand Ramlogan shared with them during his visit to Iere High School, Siparia yesterday. ...
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has described the nation’s witness protection programme as being “alive” saying no State witness under the programme has been murdered in the last three years.
Ramlogan, speaking to reporters following an address at Iere High School, De Gannes Village, Siparia yesterday, however pointed out the State could not compel witnesses to seek protection under the programme.
“They must agree voluntarily to go into witness protection programme and people sometimes don’t wish to restrict their liberties and they do not wish to go into the programme,” he said. “In the last three years, no one who is in the witness programme has been murdered.”
He said there were two reasons for a person not being in the protection programme, “their risk and threat assessment was not sufficiently high to justify for it or alternatively they did not want to go in it and that’s the reality.”
Ramlogan’s comments were in response to a query about whether the programme was still functional following the murder of State witness, Ricaldo Sanchez, who was killed before he could give evidence in a preliminary murder inquiry.
He also dismissed PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley’s proposal for the creation of an offence to deal with witness protection and witness tampering saying there is already an offence for perverting the course of justice. He again said the Opposition was hindering efforts to enforce the death penalty by not supporting amendments to the hanging bill.
“When a bandit is going to murder a witness, the penalty for murder is death so if the bandit is still murdering the witness and running the risk of death on a murder charge you think anything else will stop him and that is why we have to enforce the death penalty,” Ramlogan said. “When we came to Parliament with a bill to facilitate the implementation of the death penalty, Dr Rowley and the PNM voted against it.”
He described as “very unfortunate” the PNM’s position that they did not wish to engage in further discussions with Government on cooperating on policies to stop crime.
“I think it sends the wrong signal and it is a retrograde step politically. And it also shows that when they called for those joint discussions, it was no more than a political ploy,” he said, adding he had presented three bills for discussions: the Death Penalty Bill, the Bail Amendment Bill and a bill to abolish jury trials.