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Political LATT ?

by Dr Var­ma Deyals­ingh

The for­mer head of Slo­va­kia‘s pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice was re­cent­ly jailed for ac­cept­ing bribes to re­lease a crime boss from prison and leak­ing in­for­ma­tion from the pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice. In 2018, Slo­va­kia was ranked one of the most cor­rupt coun­tries in the EU. An­drej Kiska, the coun­try’s pres­i­dent at the time, called Slo­va­kia a “mafia state.” Jour­nal­ist Jan Ku­ci­ak, who had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing links be­tween or­gan­ised crime and politi­cians, was re­cent­ly as­sas­si­nat­ed. As far back as 1996, it was al­leged a po­lice of­fi­cer was mur­dered by the or­ders of the then-prime min­is­ter. Since 2020, the Slo­va­kian gov­ern­ment has em­barked on an on­go­ing cam­paign to erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion and has brought dozens of high-rank­ing of­fi­cials to jus­tice, in­clud­ing the for­mer at­tor­ney gen­er­al and ex-chiefs of po­lice and tax ad­min­is­tra­tion.


Our na­tion has its fair share of cor­rup­tion scan­dals. We present­ly have a for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­er­al be­fore the courts and had a pre­vi­ous AG, Sel­wyn Richard­son (un­der both PNM and NAR), as­sas­si­nat­ed, while po­lice of­fi­cer Bernadette James was al­so killed. Dur­ing the 1990 at­tempt­ed coup in­quiry, Ja­maal Shabazz said Mr Richard­son was at­tempt­ing to cov­er up a co­caine dis­cov­ery and James was killed be­cause she wit­nessed this.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

It was re­port­ed per­sons who as­sas­si­nat­ed the for­mer AG were them­selves killed and the per­son who hired them was killed by the AKS in 1997

In 1996, AG Ramesh Lawrence Ma­haraj said Richard­son was killed be­cause he was an “in­de­fati­ga­ble foe in the fight against the drug trade, and drug lords had made it their busi­ness to or­der a hit on his life.”

Some­times, we don’t know what to be­lieve, we are giv­en dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tives and peo­ple usu­al­ly grab on to the one which feeds their own be­liefs

Email­gate had ma­jor al­le­ga­tions that sup­port­ers of the UNC and PNM took op­po­site po­si­tions

We saw a sim­i­lar pat­tern emerge in LATT’s no-con­fi­dence vote on our present AG

Colum­nist Raf­fique Shah men­tioned the pol­i­tics and race fac­tor: “Noth­ing de­fined the great di­vid­ing line in this coun­try… while there was an el­e­ment of race in the pro­ceed­ings, it was not the on­ly, or even the main fac­tor that drove the cam­paign to oust the AG. It was all po­lit­i­cal—a straight case of who in the pro­fes­sion sup­port­ed the in­cum­bent PNM Gov­ern­ment, or who sup­port­ed the Op­po­si­tion UNC.”

The Op­po­si­tion leader men­tioned the eco­nom­ic fac­tor with, “beg­gars and eat ah food lawyers singing for their sup­per so they can con­tin­ue to pock­et mil­lions from the State for le­gal fees.” Some per­sons, she said, may have come out to sup­port their “friend” think­ing he may be the best per­son to oc­cu­py of­fice de­spite his mem­o­ry lapse

In 2017, when LATT ap­point­ed a com­mit­tee chaired to re­view al­le­ga­tions against CJ Archie, Is­rael Khan SC not­ed mem­bers of the Ma­son­ic Lodge can in­flu­ence de­lib­er­a­tions. “It’s well known through­out the West­ern world that mem­bers of the Ma­son­ic Lodge have pledged their lives to pro­tect one an­oth­er and would breach all ethics and prin­ci­ples of law to as­sist each oth­er in time of need ….will have a fun­da­men­tal ob­jec­tion, if he (the CJ) is a mem­ber of the Ma­son­ic Lodge, and the two silks re­tained by LATT are mem­bers al­so.”

Was this al­so an­oth­er fac­tor in the vot­ing?

LATT and its de­lib­er­a­tions will al­ways be ques­tioned and crit­i­cised by politi­cians. They keep get­ting their fair share from our present PM

Even then-PM Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar was crit­i­cal when Ar­mour was elect­ed pres­i­dent of LATT. She said with the le­gal ad­vice he had giv­en to Dr Row­ley, in­di­cat­ing that Faris Al-Rawi had not com­mit­ted any act of pro­fes­sion­al mis­con­duct, he should not have been pre­sid­ing over the LATT, where he would have to ad­ju­di­cate such

In Ju­ly 2016, there was a col­lapse of a spe­cial gen­er­al meet­ing of LATT when 25 mem­bers moved a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in then-pres­i­dent Ar­mour, for fail­ing to con­sult with mem­bers on the SSA Bill be­fore meet­ing with the AG. It was main­ly op­po­si­tion-linked at­tor­neys who fu­elled this and in the process, some at­tor­neys with­drew sup­port, say­ing they had no in­ten­tion to move a vote of no con­fi­dence against any­one

One week ago, the DPP de­cid­ed to dis­con­tin­ue charges against two busi­ness­men who were ac­cused of ob­struct­ing po­lice of­fi­cers in their ar­rest of ac­tivist In­shan Ish­mael in 2017. Ish­mael won his case for wrong­ful ar­rest, false im­pris­on­ment and ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion, af­ter the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al failed to de­fend it. Deputy DPP George Bus­by was care­ful to note that his of­fice was not ad­mit­ting that Ish­mael’s ar­rest was un­law­ful, as it could not ex­plain why the law­suit was not de­fend­ed by the AG’s Of­fice

We need an­swers. We have had al­le­ga­tions be­fore where court mat­ters against var­i­ous state board mem­bers start­ed by the PP were dis­con­tin­ued by AG Al-Rawi. Be­fore this, we wit­nessed the then-AG Anand Ram­lo­gan not ap­peal­ing Jus­tice Ron­nie Boodoos­ingh’s judg­ment in the ex­tra­di­tion case in­volv­ing the in­di­vid­u­als in the Pi­ar­co Air­port Cor­rup­tion fi­as­co. We keep hear­ing one side claim­ing the AG was pro­tect­ing “their peo­ple” while the oth­er side was say­ing “ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion.”

It seems the tax­pay­ers don’t know what or who to be­lieve any­more and some­times it seems the on­ly win­ners are the high-priced at­tor­neys