Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar Friday reiterated that she had no prior knowledge of the existence of an “illegal Flying Squad” in Trinidad and Tobago and said that a report submitted by her National Security Minister Austin “Jack” Warner on the issue had been passed on to the police for investigation.
“I also state unequivocally that as Prime Minister, any initiative considered by my Cabinet for combating crime will always be fully and completely within the laws and Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago and under the jurisdiction where appropriate of the Commissioner of Police.”
In a brief statement to Parliament, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, who has been under mounting pressure to dismiss Warner over the issue, recalled that she had asked Warner to produce the report upon her return from attending the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Inter-Sessional summit in Haiti last week, following widespread stories in the media.
“It was incumbent of me to obtain a full report from the Ministry of National Security on all matters involving that ministry and the alleged re-introduction of a flying squad.”
She said the National Security Council (NSC) met on Thursday and “amongst the several matters discussed was the issue of the alleged flying squad and the establishment of same.
“The Council had before it the report I requested from the Minister of National Security Honourable Jack Warner. He also had a report from Mr. Garvin Heerah former strategic advisor at the Ministry of National Security…and whom it was alleged had provided some interface with the persons who were desirous of re-introducing a flying squad to help in combating crime in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that Warner has “consistently denied he was instrumental in establishing any new flying squad.
“His report to the National Security Council reflected this and so today I wish to report that after full discussions and careful deliberations, the National Security Council took the decision to refer the said report to the Commissioner of Police for an investigation into any alleged wrong doing, unlawful conduct and or action by any or all persons purporting to be involved in this matter.”
Persad Bissessar said as NSC chairperson “I wish to emphasise that this course of action was taken at the very first meeting of the National Security Council upon receipt of the written report from the relevant officials and therefore I again repeat there has been no direct or implied approval every given by the National Security Council or by the Cabinet for the establishment of any such unit”.
Prime Minister Persad Bissessar repeated earlier statements that she had “no knowledge of any such alleged activity” adding “I want to make it very clear these are allegations this is why the Security Council took the decision to refer to the Commissioner of Police for investigation.”
But earlier this week, both Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley and former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj called for Warner’s removal adding that there was enough evidence in the public domain to indicate that the prime minister knew of the existence of the squad that in the 197-‘s and 80’s had made a significant dent inc riminal activities here.
“Is she really telling us that as head of the Security Council she knew nothing about it,” Maharaj said in a statement broadcast on radio, adding “this is a blatant untruth.”
The former attorney general said had Prime Minister Persad Bissessar truly wanted a report on the issue she could have received it “within hours” and not have to wait “days” given the fact that information about the squad had been in the public domain since July 2012. (CMC)