Trinidad’s main opposition party has dropped a political bombshell on the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar by revealing in parliament a long list of electronic mail allegedly pointing to a dirty plot by high officials -- including the head of government, to harm a prominent local journalist, buy off the chief state prosecutor and ensure two friendly financiers facing jail time walk free of criminal charges..
Opposition leader and prime minister-in-waiting Keith Rowley stood up in parliament this week and read more than 30 pieces of mail from top officials including Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Security Adviser Gary Griffith among others, conspiring to shut-up or physically harm Trinidad Guardian reporter Deneyse Renne because she had contacts and documents from sources deep inside the government and remove head prosecutor Roger Gaspard by offering him a position on the bench, because he is not as pliant as authorities would like.
A stunned parliament that is majority controlled by the prime minister’s People’s Partnership coalition sat in silence as Rowley read mail after mail. One government legislator, Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadar, told reporters that he immediately stepped out of the House and burst into tears as he called his wife to tell her what was going on.
But like Persad-Bissessar, fired Justice Minister Hubert Volney, other parliamentarians and political scientists, Ramadar has said that the process of authenticating the mail Rowley read must begin immediately and if verified, it would be a damning indictment on the three-year-old government.
One piece of mail allegedly from the attorney general to Griffith talked about the planting of an electronic bug in the office of Gaspard because, “I want to know what his next move is. How soon can you arrange?”
Replying shortly after, Griffith reportedly tells Ramlogan that “everything is already in place in the DPP office and another between Ramlogan and the PM talking about prosecutor Gaspard and the bid to promote him away from his office.
“Right now our best bet will be giving Gaspard a position on the bench. We could also feed our media people that Gaspard was part of the consultation at the Hall of Justice this year and he did not have a problem at the meeting. Let us try the judge(‘s) position first. Have a chat with (Chief Justice Ivor) Archie. Let them offer him the position. Archie is normally cooperative,” said the prime minister.
Persad-Bissessar, meanwhile, has said she will refer the matter to the police for a probe, but critics say that should be a job for the National Integrity Commission, rather than any agency which government could influence.
Responding directly to the most interesting day in parliament this year, the prime minster said that “none of those e-mails were sent by me. I was advised by the attorney general that none of those e-mails were sent by him. We are the two senders. I am also advised by Captain Griffith that none of those e-mails were sent by him. It is a total fabrication and I think all that was missing was a hard-hat and gloves, because it was a fabrication of the highest order,” Persad-Bissessar said.
As the controversy rages, people in the twin-island, oil-and gas-rich republic with Tobago, are awaiting the outcome of the probe to investigate the mails and to determine if high officials were plotting against key actors of the state or to even harm a media worker.