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Direct, circumstantial evidence points to the PM
The issue about the New Flying Squad is not whether there should or should not be a new police unit to fight crime, but whether there was in existence in the Ministry of National Security a police unit under the direction and control of the Minister of National Security and not under the command and control of the Acting Commissioner of Police.
Such a police squad under the control of the minister would be illegal and undemocratic. It is my view that both direct and circumstantial evidence point to the Prime Minister having knowledge of the actions taken by the Minister of National Security to revive the New Flying Squad. The Flying Squad was a unit in the police service years ago and it was disbanded.
The direct evidence came from the Prime Minister herself, who told the media on June 26, 2012 that she was leaving it to her Minister of National Security Jack Warner to decide on bringing back the Flying Squad.
The circumstantial evidence came from the reactions of the Prime Minister between the period February 2, 2013 to February 20, 2013 to the revelations in the media that there existed in the Ministry of National Security a New Flying Squad which was performing police duties.
The Prime Minister, during the period of time these publications took place, did not take any steps to address the nation, to get information or a report on the matter from the Minister of National Security, or any other person.
As a matter of fact, during that period of time she attended several public functions and made several public statements but did not address the issue of the existence and operation of an illegal Flying Squad in the Ministry of National Security. She did not call a meeting as head of the National Security Council.
• Direct evidence is evidence given by a person of what he or she sees or hears. Direct evidence would also include the admission or confession which an individual makes.
• Circumstantial evidence is evidence of any fact which can be inferred from the existence of any set of facts.
•I t is accepted that the law recognises circumstantial evidence to be as effective as direct evidence. Some legal experts refer to circumstantial evidence as being more reliable than direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence is regarded by judges as reliable to uphold convictions of criminal offences including murder.
The Prime Minister was in the country on February 2, 2013 when the T&T Guardian conspicuously published that a New Flying Squad was operating in the Ministry of National Security since July of 2012. She was in Trinidad until February 16, 2013, and on that date left for Haiti.
During the period February 2, 2013 to February 16, 2013 she would have seen published in the newspapers and in the electronic media that such a squad existed, and it was headed by a retired police inspector, Mr Mervyn Cordner.
Mr Cordner stated that he was approached by the Minister of National Security to head the squad. He had 75 retired police officers recruited. He was given vehicles and an office to operate the squad. These were provided by the Government. He said that the squad was doing police work from Maracas to Cedros.
On February 3, 2013, the Guardian conspicuously published statements from the Acting Commissioner of Police in which he said that he was not aware of the existence of such a squad and that if such a squad existed it would be illegal. He said that such a squad would have required his authorisation, but he did not give any authorisation for the operation of such a squad.
During February 2, 2013 to February 16, 2013, whilst the Prime Minister was in Trinidad and Tobago, and before she left for Haiti on February 16, 2013, she would have known that both the Minister of National Security and the Acting Commissioner of Police were denying any knowledge of this illegal police squad.
After the Prime Minister left for Haiti the Guardian continued to publish very conspicuously the news concerning the existence and operation of this illegal squad. These stories included the publication of e-mails which showed that this squad was in existence and that officials of the Ministry of National Security were aware of its existence.
The Prime Minister, while she was in Haiti, would have had access to the matters published in the media but did not take any steps to get a report or information concerning this illegal police unit. Before the Prime Minister returned to the country on February 21, 2013, the Minister of National Security stated that he would make a full statement on the matter on February 22, 2013.
The Prime Minister, on her return to Trinidad and Tobago on February 21, 2013, stated that the minister could not make that statement as it was not authorised by the Cabinet. She said that she asked the minister for a report and that she would have a meeting of the National Security Council.
A few days later, she stated that the minister gave such a report and in that report he denied any knowledge of the existence of such a squad in his ministry. She stated that she referred the matter to the Commissioner of Police for investigation and report.
I ask you the members of the public, as the jury, to decide whether the direct and circumstantial evidence point to the guilt or innocence of the Prime Minister’s knowledge of the revival of the new Flying Squad in the Ministry of National Security.
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