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One year ago, during the 2016-2017 Budget Debate, the country was alerted to photographs of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s children handling sophisticated and high-powered weapons at the Defence Force Camp Cumuto.
The Keith Rowley Administration went on the offensive, blaming the national security services. The Prime Minister said there had been “a serious breach of security by the Defence Force” and “irresponsibility on the part of the soldier” who took the pictures of the children. He did so, apparently without ascertaining the facts.
The matter was referred to both the Defence Force and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) for investigations to determine if there were violations of Sections 6, 8 and 9 of the Firearms Act; Sections 3 and 4 of the Military Training (Prohibition) Act and Section 8 of the Children Act 12 of 2012.
The Defence Force’s report was convoluted and misleading and attempted to implicate former Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Kenrick Maharaj. It accused him of authorizing the range practice and doing so on his own volition. It was not true and Maharaj made it clear that the report was wrong and misleading. The Defence Force admitted its fault and apologized to Maharaj for the misinformation.
But what about the police investigation? The inordinate amount of time that the TTPS is taking to conclude this investigation is very troubling.
It is even of greater concern because the focus of this investigation is the Attorney General, the second highest office holder in the Rowley-led Cabinet/Administration. This is highly improper. The AG should have immediately stepped aside when the investigation was launched, notwithstanding his legal right to innocence until proven guilty.
Yet he continues to sit in Cabinet and the National Security Council. Although it is public knowledge that the police are investigating this matter, Al-Rawi insists that he is not the subject of any police probe/inquiry.
The perception is that the TTPS seems either unwilling or unable to conclude any investigation involving members of the PNM.
Case in point, after four years, the TTPS still cannot produce a final report into its investigation of “emailgate.” That scandal erupted when, as Opposition Leader, Keith Rowley used fabricated emails in a presentation in parliament to accuse Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Cabinet Ministers of a conspiracy to undermine the justice system and harm a journalist. Rowley’s irresponsible action was an attempt to bring down the Government.
Citizens must have the confidence in their Police Service, which they expect to be fair, professional, independent and impartial in any type of investigation.
The police have an obligation to conclude these two investigations as matters of highest priority.