T&T PM takes back electronic devices after disagreement with police

(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has not handed over or left any of her electronic communication devices with the police.

This was confirmed yesterday by her attorney, Israel Khan SC, who said that no information was extracted from the Prime Minister’s computer or BlackBerry cellphone when she met with lead investigator in the emailgate probe, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson, last Tuesday.

Khan put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Richardson, who Khan said reneged on an earlier agreement that the devices would be analysed and extraction of information would be limited to the month of September 2012.

In fact, in his letter to Khan dated June 20, Richardson said,” I accede to your request on the terms outlined,” that “investigators in this matter should only examine and inspect the electronic devices used by the Hon Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC for the month of September 2012.”

He also agreed in his letter that the inspection of the electronic devices should be conducted in the presence of the Prime Minister, her IT expert and Khan.

September 2012 was the month in which 31 purported e-mails, related to the Section 34 fiasco, were alleged to have been exchanged between the Prime Minister, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Minister of Local Government Suruj Rambachan and National Security adviser Gary Griffith, conspiring to commit illegal acts.

“No, we did not leave anything with the police. I am sure you saw (the Prime Minister’s adviser) Barry Padarath leaving with the same box, which he came with,” (to the police station, Khan told the Sunday Express yesterday.

The box was said to contain the Prime Minister’s computer and electronic devices.

Khan said: “I had written to Richardson on behalf of my client stating clearly that the Prime Minister was willing to surrender all her devices for inspection, in front of her (Information Technology) expert, herself and her lawyer.

“I also indicated that the inspection and extraction would be confined to the period of when the alleged e-mails were sent in September 2012.

“The Deputy Commissioner of Police acknowledged and said he would accede to her request, but said we must not interfere with the procedure, so we went there to surrender these things for inspection but they told us they wanted to keep the devices, put them in an evidence bag and lock them up and after they were  examined, they would send them back to us.”

Khan said he was shocked by this new turn of events.

“I intervened and I told the DCP I am flabbergasted. I told him this would be a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the Prime Minister to hand over these devices to you. I told him that she would be acting irresponsibly to do that because sensitive information involving the State and other sovereign powers are on her computer.

The Prime Minister also intervened and said that she had information on these devices with regard to regional and international matters and leaders such as (United States) President Barack Obama and the vice president of China.

“We said ‘NO! No! NO!’ Even the Prime Minister seemed disappointed and told the police that she wants this enquiry to come to a close. She also said she would give the undertaking that she would write to the providers and would waive her rights of privacy for the month of September.

Khan said Persad-Bissessar told the police, ‘I cannot leave my devices here’”.

“We never left the devices there. (Persad-Bissessar) took her BlackBerry and computer hard drive, everything. We said extract and copy it only for the month of September, but they said they are not doing that and they want everything,” Khan said.

“I reminded them that we are not here as suspects, but as witnesses to help solve this case. I reminded the  that they can only keep the devices if they believe that a person is a suspect and that the devices had been used to do commit a criminal offence,” he added.

Khan says if in fact the Prime Minister is a suspect then the police don’t have to wait for any invitation but can raid Persad-Bissessar’s home and take the devices away from her.

Once the providers say there is truth in the “e-mails”, Khan said the police can then search, seize and arrest.

Khan asked: “How can they call big people, and watch us in our faces and change things just like that after they agreed not to seize their devices?

The Sunday Express asked Khan what was the next step for the Prime Minister

“Well, the police will have to agree that their IT expert will only extract information for the month of September,” he said.

Khan said that tomorrow a formal letter will be sent to Richardson taking issue with statements made in the media, purporting to have come from Richardson about the pace of the investigation.

 

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