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.