Trinidad Opposition Leader Cleared of Marijuana Found at Her Home Six Years Ago

Commissioner of Police Gary Grif­fith said the small amount of ganja found on Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s premises could not be attributed to her.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday June 7, 2019 – Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar has been cleared of any culpability in con­nec­tion with the discovery of mar­i­jua­na found on her private residence six years ago when she was Prime Minister.

At a press conference yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Grif­fith said that the small amount of ganja found on the premises could not be attributed to Persad-Bissessar.

The illegal substance had been found in April 2013, while the then prime minister was out of the country. It was two years later that the police commissioner at the time, Stephen Williams, ordered an investigation into an alleged cover-up of the find.

“If you have full ac­cess, con­trol and au­thor­i­ty of a home and what en­ters it, then there can be some de­gree of re­spon­si­bil­i­ty in the mat­ter. In this case, based on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, mar­i­jua­na was found out­side her house. If it were found in­side then there would be some de­gree of re­spon­si­bil­i­ty,” Griffith said yesterday, noting that the marijuana was found outside Persad-Bissessar’s home and more than 70 people had access to the yard, including gardeners, drivers, soldiers, police officers and plumbers.

“I wish to clarify that the owner of the property, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, she is in no way culpable, nor is she in any way accused of any wrong dealing. And she is clear of any matter pertaining to this investigation.”

However, the Commissioner stressed that the investigation was not over.

“There are other matters which have to be dealt with pertaining to that incident,” he said.

Persad-Bisssessar and her United National Congress (UNC) welcomed the announcement by Commissioner Griffith but expressed the hope that other open cases, including ‘Email­gate’ and the fake oil scan­dal, could also be concluded.

In 2013, when in op­po­si­tion, now Prime Minister Dr Keith Row­ley took a se­ries of print­ed emails, which he said he had received anonymously, to Par­lia­ment and read out the de­tails of 31 email ex­changes pur­port­ed­ly be­tween Per­sad-Bisses­sar, then at­tor­ney gen­er­al Anand Ram­lo­gan, then na­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty ad­vi­sor Gary Grif­fith and gov­ern­ment min­is­ter Su­ruj Ram­bachan, which de­tailed a plot to harm a jour­nal­ist and pay­ment of mon­ey to buy free­dom for an un­named per­son.

In September 2017, the Opposition Leader raised the fake oil issue at the UNC’s national congress where she cited an internal audit report dated August 17, 2017, which alleged that A&V Oil had inflated its production figures, resulting in state refinery Petrotrin paying it millions of dollars for oil never received.

“The par­ty com­mends the Com­mis­sion­er for fi­nal­ly clear­ing the air on this [marijuana] mat­ter, which first sur­faced four years ago in June 2015 – an elec­tion year,” the UNC said in a statement, adding that it “hoped that sim­i­lar re­sources will be de­ployed in­to the in­ves­ti­ga­tions” in­volv­ing Petrotrin and A&V Oil.

“In ad­di­tion, the al­le­ga­tions which were lev­elled against Mrs Per­sad-Bisses­sar and oth­er mem­bers of the par­ty which came to be known as ‘Email­gate’ re­main un­re­solved, even though the probe end­ed two years ago and noth­ing of sub­stance was found as stat­ed by the for­mer Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Stephen Williams on na­tion­al tele­vi­sion.

“We reiterate our call on the Director of Public Prosecutions to act on the ‘Emailgate’ allegations and clear those involved as has been done by both the Integrity Commission and the former Commissioner of Police,” the party added.

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