UNC: Blame Al-Rawi, not DPP for Nelson case outcome

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Faris Al-Rawi – Jeff K. Mayers

San Juan/Barataria MP Saddam Hosein said the silence is deafening regarding the actions of former AG Faris Al-Rawi in the Vincent Nelson case.

Speaking at the UNC’s weekly Sunday media conference at the office of the Opposition Leader, Charles Street, Port of Spain, Hosein compared the comments being made against the Director of Public Prosecutions to what he said was the lack of comments being made against the former AG.

“(Vincent) Nelson writing the DPP telling him he wants his conviction to be set aside on the basis of that collapsed prosecution, that deals with a former AG making promises outside his constitutional remit to a witness in a criminal matter.

“A political appointee making certain inducements and promises in terms of financial promises and promises not to prosecute, and making recommendations not to prosecute against a main witness in a criminal trial against your political opponents.

“That is what Nelson is seeking, to get his conviction set aside on those grounds.

“All of these things are happening in this country but we hear silence in certain corners. We don’t hear the condemnation that is being given against the office of the DPP in the same light in terms of a former AG making inducements to a main criminal prosecution witness.”

Hosein said the DPP was being attacked for not pursuing the Piarco matter against former PM Basdeo Panday and the case against former AG Anand Ramlogan and lawyer Gerald Ramdeen. He said the PNM has a history of pressuring DPP’s in TT.

“Did the decision to discontinue the cases against Ramlogan, Ramdeen, and Panday, lead to a decision to hound the DPP out of office? I call on the DPP to break his silence, as serious allegations are being made against his constitutionally protected office.”

In a 36-page letter to the DPP, convicted King’s Counsel Vincent Nelson asked the DPP to take steps to use the power of his office to have his conviction and sentence set aside, “in the interest of justice.”

In the March 15 letter, the Jamaican-born attorney says the DPP had a duty to disclose to the court the specific terms of the indemnity agreement between Nelson and the Government, which would have “inevitably led to the plea agreement being rejected” by Justice Malcolm Holdip, in 2019, because of the promises made to Nelson by former attorney general Faris Al-Rawi for the Government.

In May 2019, Nelson, 62, a tax attorney who lives in the UK, was indicted on three charges of conspiring to commit money laundering, misbehaviour in public office and conspiracy to commit an act of corruption. The misbehaviour charge was discontinued after he entered a plea deal with the Office of the DPP. Justice Holdip sentenced him in March 2020 and ordered him to pay a total of $2.25 million in fines which he also wants the State to pay.

On October 10, 2022, the DPP announced he was stopping the case against Ramlogan and Ramdeen because Nelson was unwilling to testify until his civil claim against the State came to an end. The letter said Nelson had consistently said he will not give evidence until the government fulfilled its commitment under the indemnity agreement and provide the promised pardon – which was supposed to happen a month after he was sentenced in 2020.

Attempts to reach both the current and former AGs, the DPP, and the Prime Minister for comment were unsuccessful.