|PNM defends Al-Rawi |
By JULIEN NEAVES Wednesday, April 16 2014
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LAUGHTER: Candidate for general secretary, Ashton Forde (left) shares a laugh with Camille Robinson-Regis, candidate for lady vice chairman, Franklyn ...
PNM Senate members yesterday came out in defence of their colleague Senator Faris Al-Rawi who is being accused of “treason” for his possession of leaked reports from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and Police Service on the New Flying Squad Unit.
The PNM called on Government to focus on the content of the report rather than how it came into the public domain.
Senator Camille Robinson Regis noted that according to the Treason Act, treason is the crime of betraying one’s country or trying to overthrow the Government or helping your country’s enemies during a time of war and the penalty for it is death by hanging.
“We of the PNM and in particular we of the Senate are saying the Attorney General is highly improper in even attempting to suggest that Senator Al-Rawi will do anything to subvert the Government. And in his usual fashion the Attorney General is just trying to obfuscate the issues,” Robinson-Regis said.
She pointed out that the real issue was whether Government, having received this report in December, “was trying to keep information from the people.”
Al-Rawi had reported receiving the information in his mailbox. Robinson-Regis noted that politicians are in the habit of getting information in their mailboxes and members of Government, when in Opposition, received information in their mailboxes.
She noted if the investigation was completed and remained in the hands of Government with nothing being done, “then it was incumbent on Senator Al-Rawi to ensure that the public was made aware of the contents of this document.”
In response, Attorney General Ramlogan questioned how the public interest could be served by a subversion of independent institutions of the State.
He said the leaking of the report to a political party had implications for national security and again questioned how Al-Rawi came into possession of such, “sensitive, secretive documents.”
The AG renewed his call for a police investigation into the leak and expressed support for the Police Social and Welfare Association which has also called for the PCA to cease operations and for an enquiry to be held into the leak. Ramlogan said the integrity of the PCA has been called into question and said a press release from the PCA stating it had no comment to make on the issue, as being tantamount to abdication of duty and responsibility.
He said the report may have been leaked to two opposition political parties, the PNM and Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and there are also implications for the content of the report and possible, “ulterior political motives”.
“Was it in fact a political report from the start, from the word go,” Ramlogan asked. In response, Al-Rawi described Ramlogan’s statement as, “a desperate attempt to turn attention away from the rotting carcass and that he has made remarks that are infantile and senseless at best.”
Noting that Ramlogan prescribed a charge of treason against him which “is punishable by death by hanging,” Al-Rawi asked the AG if he would call on police to investigate his (the AG), “use of files reputed to have come from the DPP’s Office on a public political platform to prosecute a case against (ILP interim deputy leader) Anna Deonarine.”
Al-Rawi said when he made reference to Police Service and PCA reports in the Senate last week, he gave, “very scant indication of matters contained in the report and focused on the existence of the report and the fact that Government has been silent in the face of the Police report having been delivered since December 13.”