UNC MPs meet CoP to call for action over Nelson indemnity deal

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Vincent Nelson

OPPOSITION Senator David Nakhid, with Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally, delivered a letter on Wednesday to police (TTPS) headquarters in Port of Spain urging a probe into the Vincent Nelson affair, and they ended up meeting acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard dropped corruption charges involving the award of legal briefs against former attorney general Anand Ramlogam and attorney Gerald Ramdeen when Nelson refused to testify against them until his civil lawsuit against the government for breaching an alleged indemnity agreement with him was heard.

The letter, signed by Nakhid and dated November 9, urged Jacob immediately to investigate whether government members had conspired or committed acts to pervert the course of justice or acts amounting to misbehaviour in public office.

While the police have investigative powers, the letter said, “We have not heard from the TTPS.”

It said perverting the course of justice was a common-law offence involving an attempt – whether successful or not – to impair, obstruct, interfere with, or prevent a court from administering justice. The letter said the media had reported an alleged conspiracy by government members to deny equal protection of the law to its political opponents Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen, to injure them.

“Eminent Senior Counsel have indicated that Faris Al-Rawi did not have any legal authority to enter into the infamous indemnity agreement entered into with Mr Vincent Nelson.”

Nakhid’s letter offered parameters for the police to investigate.

“Whether the former attorney general Mr Al-Rawi engaged in conduct which was improper and which interfered with Mr Nelson’s free choice to plead guilty or not guilty.

“You will recall and it is settled that Mr Al-Rawi had no business negotiating with Mr Nelson. Issues of plea bargaining fell squarely upon the shoulders of the DPP.”

The letter asked if such conduct regarding entering an indemnity agreement was tantamount to an inducement to Nelson to plead guilty.

“Was the conduct any harassment of Nelson, or constituted improper and/or unlawful pressure on him or more importantly whether there was wrongful interference with Mr Nelson so that his participation in the administration of justice became tainted or polluted?”

The letter appealed to Jacob “to demonstrate your independence and competence by acting in the public interest” to probe a possible perverting of the course of justice.

“Should you fail to act, I reserve the right to seek whatever legal remedies are available to me,” Nakhid wrote.

Nakhid told reporters the meeting with Jacob had been “very informative.” He said the matter was now in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Rambally said the police service was taking its lead from the Office of the DPP, and he would want the latter to give advice in an expeditious manner, including whether a plea bargain with Nelson had been unlawfully made. He reiterated the letter’s call for the police to seize communication devices (such as laptops and cellphones) from top Cabinet ministers, including Al-Rawi, the Prime Minister and AG Reginald Armour. Nakhid said this should be done urgently, as there had been reports of some recordings being deleted.

Rambally concluded, “Today is the first time we are hearing that the DPP is dealing with this matter.”

He was glad Jacob said he would respond to the letter and was taking his lead from the DPP’s’s Office. The MP said, “This is step one in dealing with an unlawful regime.”