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Trinidad officials at odds


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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar described as “unfortunate” the war of words between her Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and the Acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert.“It’s unfortunate, the words that have been back and forward. I think the matter is being handled, and let’s put that behind us and move on,” Persad-Bissessar told a news conference.The two men are at odds over who is responsible for securing the premises of a controversial church at Guanapo Heights in Arima, east of here, to which former prime minister Patrick Manning is linked.The Integrity Commission has already announced that it is investigating the construction of the controversial church that was looted during the past few days.Manning has said he gave no instructions to the state-owned Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT) to build the church.But speaking at a news conference following Thursday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Ramlogan said that the police has stood idly by while looting has been taking place. He said he would explore a legal option on the state’s behalf about the property.The Attorney General said that the National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy must now “call in his Commissioner of Police and deal with him firmly.”He warned that if Philbert’s explanation was not a good one, his acting appointment could come “to an accelerated and premature end.”But in a statement released on Thursday night, Philbert, a police officer with 43 years experience, said he was unaware that the Attorney General “can appoint, shorten, discontinue or influence the tenure of service of a police officer or the Commissioner of Police”, pointing also to the independence his office enjoys.He accused Ramlogan of exhibiting “contempt, disdain, bias and animosity for the office of Commissioner of Police” and that the Attorney General had come to “a hasty conclusion” without consulting him.Asked by reporters whether or not she felt her Attorney General had overstepped his boundaries, Persad Bissessar, who came to office following the May 24 general election, said she was “not of that view” and hinted that Philbert may have to take some blame for the situation. (CMC)

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