Investigate John Jeremie By Andre Bagoo - Newsday
Sunday, July 20 2008
Desmond Allum, the President of the Criminal Bar Association, has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Geoffrey A Henderson, calling on him to conduct an investigation into whether former Attorney General John Jeremie attempted to pervert the course of public justice or misbehaved in public office arising out of his reported involvement in the re-purchase of land at Millennium Park owned by Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls.
The land transaction was one of the key issues which surrounded complaints against former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma and attempts to impeach him over allegations that he tried to interfere in criminal proceedings against Prof Vijay Naranysingh and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
Allum’s letter, dated July 18 was released to the press on Friday, the same day it was delivered to the DPP. Also handed to the media was a copy of a similar letter also calling for an investigation from the Association’s Vice-President, Nizam Mohammed, dated April 5, 2007 and addressed to Mr Henderson.
Mr Allum claimed that more than one year later there has been no reply to Mohammed’s letter. Allum wrote to Henderson:
“There is already in existence enough material in the form of witness statements taken in relation to the investigations into the criminal as well as the disciplinary proceedings for us to establish that the Chief Magistrate approached the then Attorney General with two allegations, one about the conduct of Chief Justice Sat Sharma and the other in relation to a suspicious land transaction, at the same time the Attorney General was a key witness against Mr Sharma in the Naraynsingh 137 proceedings.”
Mohammed, in his earlier letter to the DPP, noted that there were enough reports concerning the interaction and communication between Jeremie, Andre Monteil, a senior CLICO executive and the PNM Treasurer, Anthony Fifi, a director of Home Construction Limited and the Chief Magistrate, to warrant a full investigation.
Jeremie’s role in the whole affair, involving attempts to impeach the Chief Justice and the attempt by the Chief Magistrate to re-sell the land he had purchased from Home Construction Ltd at Millennium Park, was heightened by information disclosed in the Mustill Tribunal which was held here in September 2007, Allum stated.
Following the last General Elections, Jeremie was not re-appointed Attorney General. Instead, he received a prized posting as this country’s High Commissioner to London and has already taken up his position there with his family.
Monteil has since retired from CLICO and did not seek renomination as PNM Treasurer at last weekend’s annual PNM convention. Allum’s letter details the chain of events that ended with Mc Nicolls signing a complaint against Sharma on May 5, 2006 reportedly the same day he received a cheque for $390,000 as a deposit towards the purchase of land that Mc Nicolls was trying to sell. With respect to the alleged actions of the Attorney General, Allum’s letter stated: ...
that the Chief Magistrate approached Jeremie with two allegations: one about the conduct of the Chief Justice and the other in relation to a suspicious land transaction. At the time the Attorney General was a key witness against the Chief Justice in the Naraynsingh Section 137 proceedings.
... that despite being a witness against the Chief Justice, the Attorney General began to conduct a private investigation into these allegations in a manner that was not transparent. Thus, he became an active participant in a process calculated to impeach the Chief Justice; ...
that the Attorney General told the Prime Minister about the Chief Justice’s allegations and advised the DPP and Michael Quamina, the Prime Minister’s attorney, about the allegations. He was advised to take a written statement from the Chief Magistrate but did not at the time do so;
... that despite being a witness in the Naraynsingh case against the Chief Justice, the Attorney General apparently did not refer the matter to the Police or the DPP; ...
that no attempt was made to meaningfully investigate or act on the Chief Magistrate’s allegations on the Attorney General’s part, even as he assumed control of these serious allegations — including that senior persons at CLICO had tried to influence the 2006 Panday Integrity trial; ...
that on April 28, 2006 the Attorney General called on a friend Mr Andre Monteil of CLICO, telling him, “clean up your mess”; ...
that the Attorney General encouraged an HCL official, Mr Fifi, to re-purchase a piece of land at Millennium Park from the Chief Magistrate; ...
that the Attorney General forwarded to the Prime Minister a statement signed by the Chief Magistrate, a complaint implicating the Chief Justice, on May 5, 2006, the exact date that the Chief Magistrate received money for the land he sold to HCL; ...
that on the same day, the Attorney General put pressure on the Chief Justice to resign in order to avoid criminal charges arising out of the Chief Magistrate’s allegations.
Allum’s letter quoted excerpts from evidence given at the Mustill Tribunal hearings including Lord Mustill’s expression of disappointment that Mr Jeremie chose not to give evidence before the Mustill Tribunal.
Allum concluded his letter by stating that at no other time in our history was there more need for open transparency in the activities of all public servants and public officials “The matters raised in our correspondence,” Allum told the DPP, “are of serious public importance.
The public has a right to know what action, if any, you will take in the matter.” “You will recall that the Attorney General has stated publicly on several occasions that no one is above the law.
This maxim applies to him,” Mohammed noted in his letter to the DPP.
The call for an investigation into Jeremie’s conduct in the Sharma affair comes seven months after the Mustill Tribunal cleared Sharma of allegations of misconduct levied against him by the Chief Magistrate. During the course of hearings at the Mustill Tribunal in September 2007, Jeremie made one appearance on September 21 before Lord Mustill, Sir Vincent Floissac and Dennis Morrison QC.
Despite serious allegations against him, he later failed to show up at the Winsure Building for cross-examination, with Mustill noting that this fact would be taken into consideration in the drawing up of the tribunal’s final report.
Of Jeremie’s role in the whole affair, the report would later conclude that, “there is evidence, the weight of which we are not in a position to assess, that on May 8, 2006, the Attorney General had attempted to use the Chief Magistrate’s first statement as a means of pressuring the Chief Justice to resign.
“The picture presented to this Tribunal almost defies belief...We have heard allegations against the Attorney General, who could have given oral evidence to rebut them, but did not.”
The report also noted that in the wake of Mc Nicolls’ refusal to testify in the collapsed criminal case against Sharma on March 5, 2007, Mc Nicolls’ flawed legal explanation for his actions “seems to have originated with the Attorney General.”
“The concept of the separation of powers seems to have been ignored...The picture is troubling indeed, both for the Tribunal and for the peoples of Trinidad and Tobago.”
republished from Newsday of 2008...........check it out fockers!