Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley.
PORT OF SPAIN – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has dismissed calls for him to step down and apologise to the nation after the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) Tuesday called on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Roger Gaspard, “to take action” in the so-called “emailgate” controversy.
Earlier this week, Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said that the police force had completed its investigation into the matter in which several former government ministers had been accused of being involved in a sinister move to undermine the judiciary, the DPP and the media.
“I have nothing to apologise for since I have done my duty in calling for an investigation into these and similar matters, many of which are still engaging the attention of the nation’s law enforcement,’ Rowley told the Trinidad Express newspaper Wednesday.
“I simply want to remind the population that I received those documents and submitted them to then president Maxwell Richards for Integrity Commission investigations.
“After six months and confirmation from the Integrity Commission that no investigation was initiated I, as a member of Parliament had no option but to take the matter to Parliament and it is only then that any investigation was opened,”’ Rowley added.
Williams, speaking on a police sanctioned television show over the last weekend said the “emailgate” matter is now in the hands of Gaspard.
“Well that inquiry was in fact completed. It would have required the final disposal of that matter through the office of the DPP,” he said, adding “that inquiry has effectively been completed.
Williams told television viewers that the police had “pronounced on what had transpired in relation to the investigation” saying “nothing of substance came out of that long drawn out investigation but closure will be guided by the office of the DPP”.
On May 20, 2013, then Opposition Leader Rowley told Parliament he had received 31 emails purporting to show correspondence between then Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, then attorney general Anand Ramlogan, local government and works minister Suruj Rambachan and security adviser Gary Griffith, in a sinister move to undermine the judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and the media.
Rowley told legislators that he had received the emails in December the previous year, from a “whistle blower” indicating how operatives within the government had sought to undermine those institutions. He said he had passed them on to the Office of the President.
Rowley said the emails, dating back to September 2012, were from people concerned with the government’s defence of the early proclamation of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a ten-year period to walk free and a verdict of not guilty entered against their names.
Critics said that the clause was aimed at supporting businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who have been described as financiers of the ruling United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the four-member coalition government.
The two are facing fraud and laundering charges relating to the re-development of the Piarco International Airport in 2001. They are also wanted in the United States on a number of related charges.
In the statement, the UNC said in presenting the “emails” to Parliament in 2013, Rowley sought to make a case that the then government officials were involved in criminal activity and “that he was duty bound to present information which he said he spent six months to determine their merit.
“Dr Rowley’s actions have now been proven to be nothing more than attempts to malign Mrs Kamla Persad Bissessar, as well as members of the then People’s Partnership administration,” the party said.
Rowley told the newspaper that given the nature of the material and the nature of the investigations “I am not at all surprised at the final outcome since it is common knowledge that the longer it takes to attend to the matters, the more difficult it becomes to determine the source.”
He said it is now more than five years since the matter first came to notice, adding “what was needed to be determined is whether there were people in government who have been engaged in criminal conduct.
“Subsequent to the public interest in this email matter, we have all the answers we need, that elements of the UNC are capable of and have engaged in criminal conduct,” he told the newspaper.
Rowley also questioned the statement made by Williams, telling the newspaper, “this is not the first time that the Commissioner of police has made a statement of this nature.
“He made the same statement a few years ago well before any investigation was completed. It was also my understanding that this matter was attracting the attention of the DPP which office was receiving the work of the police. Is it that the DPP has now come to the conclusion expressed,” Rowley asked. (CMC)