Black Immigrant Daily News
Ex-AG Anand Ramlogan. –
EVEN if former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, is successful in his constitutional claim in his witness-tampering case, the prosecution of the matter can still proceed, lead prosecutor Edward Jenkins, QC, maintains.
Jenkins made the comment at the first hearing of the constitutional claim filed by Ramlogan before Justice Nadia Kangaloo on Wednesday.
Ramlogan has complained about the authority of the police to gather certain evidence the prosecution intends to use in its prosecution of allegations against him, and has also raised an issue of apparent bias on the part of a High Court judge who signed off on certain warrants to the police.
He says his constitutional rights have been infringed.
The matter has been adjourned to November 4, at which time further directions are expected to be given by Kangaloo for a full hearing of the matter. The preliminary inquiry into the witness-tampering allegations was expected to begin on July 11 before Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle.
However, before it could get going, she was told Ramlogan was raising an issue only the High Court could determine under section 14.4 of the Constitution. The chief magistrate referred the matter to the High Court and it was assigned to Kangaloo.
As a result, the trial for the inquiry in the lower court was put on hold. A hearing will be held there on September 19, to determine the status of the constitutional claim before the High Court.
On Wednesday, Jenkins pressed Kangaloo to proceed with the matter before her as soon as possible since there was no stay of the proceedings before the chief magistrate.
But, he noted, even if Ramlogan was successful in his constitutional claim, it will not be the end of the prosecution’s case.
However, one of Ramlogan’s attorneys in the High Court matter, Kent Samlal, said they can only file a formal claim once Ramlogan’s lead counsel Peter Carter, QC, is admitted to practise in Trinidad.
He said they have written to the Office of the Attorney General seeking to have the minister make an order for Carter’s special admission.
“We are awaiting word on that.”
Samlal said it was only when Carter is formally admitted he can properly begin his work which includes the filing of a fixed-date claim.
In his complaint, which will form the backbone of his constitutional claim, Ramlogan says his rights have been contravened because of the unlawful issuance of warrants for the interception of communication data as it related to phone calls.
He contends the police wrongfully used the warrant process, and the signing-off on five interception orders by then High Court judge Justice Gillian Lucky in 2019 was on the basis of apparent bias.
“These constitutional issues are deeply profound and have far-reaching consequences. Not only do they impact the criminal law jurisdiction in terms of evidence gathering, charging, and the prosecution of alleged criminal activity, but they also, and most importantly, impact the sacrosanct constitutional rights of citizens, essentially to be free from unlawful interference by the State and to receive a fair trial,” the complaint reads.
It contends in relation to telephone calls, information of who was called, the number of the call, the duration of the call, and the contents of the conversations are private.
On the apparent bias point, Ramlogan contends he and Lucky had a “public disagreement” over the leak of a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) report on a revamped flying squad. Ramlogan was the AG at the time while Lucky was the PCA director.
“There was a heated and controversial war of words,” between the two, the complaint, filed in the magistrates’ court on July 11 said. It referenced newspaper articles on the alleged public spat.
Ramlogan was charged in 2017 on charges of misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice.
The case against him surrounds an allegation by director of the Police Complaints Authority David West that he was approached by Ramlogan to withdraw his witness statement in a defamation case against then Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in 2014.
Ramlogan’s complaint says West revealed in his witness statement in the criminal proceedings it was Lucky who recommended him as PCA director.
It is for these reasons he contends the interception orders made by Lucky were unlawfully granted and are invalid because there was apparent bias, and the judge should not have considered the police’s applications.
He also complained of “material non-disclosure” on the part of the prosecution.
Ramlogan is accused of obstructing justice by using threats and bribery to persuade West to not give evidence in his (Ramlogan) defamation case against Rowley.
He is also accused of misbehaving in public office by improperly trying for West not to testify on Rowley’s behalf.
The offences allegedly occurred in October 2014, while former police commissioner Gary Griffith, who is also a witness in the case, was serving as national security minister.
Shortly after former acting police commissioner Stephen Williams initiated an investigation into the allegations in February 2015, then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar advised the President to revoke Ramlogan and Griffith’s appointments.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Kangaloo gave Ramlogan until October 10 to file and serve his claim.
Jenkins agreed, saying he would not want to prejudice Ramlogan’s position. Ramlogan’s attorneys are also expected to apply for a transcript of the proceedings on July 11 to clarify the issue of if a stay was granted by the chief magistrate.
Also appearing with Jenkins is deputy DPP Tricia Hudlin-Cooper.