T&T AG: No rift with the US

(Trinidad Guardian)  A release from the White House in Washington and the US Department of State to the Government of T&T recognising the valuable assistance of the Government and the Attorney General in effecting the extradition of Doreen Alexander has laid to rest speculation there is some kind of diplomatic rift between the US and T&T, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.

Ramlogan was responding to questions from the media at the post-Cabinet press briefing that there was some distrust by US law enforcement authorities in giving information to local authorities in a FBI probe into National Security Minister Jack Warner. Noting it was not highlighted in the media, Ramlogan said the Government received the release from White House officials, which was followed up yesterday morning with another from the US Embassy.

He read pertinent parts of it. The release said through co-operation between the US and T&T, Doreen Alexander was extradited to the US from T&T on March 31 to face charges related to her alleged role in the 2005 kidnapping of naturalised US citizen, Balram “Balo” Maharaj. “The US Embassy recognises the valuable assistance of the Government of T&T, expecially the Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, in effecting this extradition.”

The release also recognised the important contributions of local law enforcement agencies in the investigation of the matter. It said: “The Embassy also recognises the important contributions of the T&T Police Service, Anti-Kidnapping Squad and Homicide Bureau for their role in the investigation. “This latest extradition underscores the continuing diplomatic and law enforcement co-operation between both countries.”

A vindicated Ramlogan said: “So those who are trying to create mischief by suggesting there is some diplomatic rift between T&T and the United States, this release is perhaps timely in putting that to rest and shelving that whole issue. “It was raised by the Opposition as part of the ordinary political mischief that one expects in the dynamism of local politics,” he said dismissively.

The Embassy release said Alexander, 47, arrived in the US on Sunday, March 31, and was arraigned before US Magistrate Judge Deborah A Robinson in the District of Colombia. It said she was charged in a two-count indictment filed in September 2010. “Alexander is the last charged co-conspirator involved in the alleged kidnapping of Maharaj, her former boyfriend and father to one of her sons.”

The release recalled that Maharaj died as a result of the kidnapping. “The other 12 co-conspirators were previously extradited and prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.” It said if convicted, Alexander faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Responding to questions that the US was upset over the non-extradition of UNC financiers Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson on corruption charges, the AG replied: “I don’t know that is so, because the release speaks to the continuing diplomatic relations between both countries. “This is not the first time we extradited. Those gentlemen have a matter before the court. The Court of Appeal had ruled in their favour.

“The Government and the Attorney General, in fact, had extradited those two defendants. I signed that extradition order. “It is the Court of Appeal that reversed the judgment and granted leave. That matter is now before the courts.” Asked if he received any information on the US inquiries into National Security Minister Jack Warner, the AG said: “I have been in the Parliament for the last three days and was in Cabinet today, I don’t know if anything reached my desk, but I doubt it.

“Our local embassy has been co-ordinating and trying to give that assistance…We will have to wait and see,” he said. Daryan Warner, Jack Warner’s son, has been named a “co-operating witness” in the FBI investigation. Among the matters under scrutiny are two previously reported allegations involving Warner.



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