Moonilal: $20m ‘missing file’ probe a hoax

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal.

OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal says the appointment of retired Appeal Court judge, Justice Stanley John, and a retired Special Branch officer was a “hoax.”

On Sunday, Moonilal questioned the appointment of John and retired ACP Pamela Schullera-Hinds to investigate the missing file which led to the award of some $20 million malicious prosecution judgment in favour of nine men acquitted of the kidnapping/murder of Vindra Naipul-Coolman.

He said he was curious as to how they were recruited and their terms of engagement.

“One cannot be engaged by the public purse and not know the terms of engagement.”

Moonilal maintained the position of the Opposition UNC that the Fraud Squad was better suited to investigate the matter since the file, which was reported missing by Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, on February 1, was no longer missing.

On Saturday, in a public address on state television, TTT, John provided the terms of reference of his two-member team.

Moonilal predicts the outcome of the probe would be blamed on a “systemic failure” in the Office of the Attorney General.

“I am not questioning Justice John’s integrity or professionalism. He has an illustrious career both in TT and abroad.

“What we are saying, is that Mr John has been used, almost as a too,l by the administration where there is no legal framework for his enquiry.

“In fact, Mr John has no immunity. If Mr John writes a report and ill-speak me, I can sue him for defamation. If he writes a report, it will have to be secret because it cannot be released to the public. It can only go to the Parliament because there are immunities there.

“Mr John has no legal framework to operate in. He cannot summon persons and demand papers and notes and minutes. If people are helping him, it is because he is, ostensibly, working for the AG.

“That is the other point, he is placing himself as an adjunct office holder in the Ministry of the AG.”

Moonilal also said the Opposition’s difficulty was the appointment was made by the National Security Council which, he said, is not a legal entity.

“It is not established by statute. It is a sub-committee of Cabinet and you cannot use a sub-committee to appoint people and demand notes and have state-office holders account to him, report to him and give him statements. We have a serious problem with that.”

Moonilal said Armour and his predecessor, Faris Al-Rawi, should have been meeting monthly with the Solicitor General to get a grasp of the weighty, significant issues in the court, to ensure the state’s readiness in cases.

“This AG, like the one before, was busy chasing down UNC politicians, busy matching belt with shoes. No time for real work. “

He said it was a sad day for TT to be dependent on an attorney general, who was disqualified from representing Trinidad and Tobago by a Miami Court, to monitor major lawsuits against the Government.