(Trinidad Guardian) Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says there are sufficient grounds for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to trigger Section 137 impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ivor Archie which could result in him being tried for misconduct in office.
This follows the decision of the Law Association membership to forward an investigative report to Rowley who has the sole discretion to decide if to make the recommendation to President Paula-Mae Weekes to appoint a tribunal to investigate the allegations. The PM said on Saturday that he would not be rushed into making a decision.
Archie is accused of lobbying for houses from the Housing Development Corporation for over a dozen people at the behest of two of his personal friends, who are accused of taking bribes to fast-track the applications.
Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said as an attorney she had read the LATT report which was sent to Rowley.
Asked what she would have done if she had received such a report as the Prime Minister, Persad-Bissessar said if she was the Prime Minister she would never have allowed the situation to reach where it is now.
Saying the scandal has damaged the international reputation of the country, Persad-Bissessar said, “A long time ago, I had said that the Prime Minister had enough to act upon. He is not to be the judge or the jury. He is not to be the prosecutor. Let Section 137 be triggered and let the tribunal decide. It is not for us to decide.”
She noted that a year ago, long before the Law Association was given the go-ahead to complete its probe into Archie, she had advised Rowley to trigger Section 137.
“When I met him privately a year ago, that is what I advised him to do. There are sufficient grounds even without the Law Association’s investigative report to trigger it and I have read the report. I am a lawyer and the Law Association has put it out on their website and I have read the report and from what I have read there is sufficient evidence to trigger Section 137.”
Last August, Archie challenged the LATT’s right to investigate him at the United-Kingdom based Privy Council. However, that lawsuit was dismissed in a 15-page-judgement by five Law Lords and Archie was ordered to pay costs.
The Law Association conducted its probe and last Tuesday 150 members voted in favour of sending the report to the Prime Minister while 32 voted against it.
Since 2017, Archie has been the subject of allegations of misconduct which suggest that he used his office to assist two convicted felons.