Jul 29, 2017 News
-says he might have been influenced by Top Cop
By Feona Morrison
Acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine, yesterday told the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the alleged assassination plot against President David Granger that investigations were not properly done.
He added that he now doubts the judgment of Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum.
Ramnarine told Commissioner Paul Slowe, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, that the only time he was updated on the status of investigation into the matter was when he spoke with Blanhum during a cell phone conversation they had on March 30.
Ramnarine said the Crime Chief informed him that he instructed that Nizam Khan, who allegedly attempted to recruit someone to kill the President, be released on bail during the probe which featured ranks from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters and the Special Branch Unit.
According to Ramnarine, he was not consulted about releasing Khan on bail but if he had, he would have objected.
The COI heard that Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, who was on leave at the time, ordered the release of Nizam Khan, the accused plotter; his brother Imran Khan and the accuser Andriff Gillard through the Crime Chief.
“We incarcerate persons for 72 hours for far, far less serious offences or allegations.
At that point in time I did not go down the road to formally rebuke the Crime Chief in all honesty,
“It had become widely known that his professionalism and competence and good judgment were at that time above board based on his work and his leadership in the CID,” the Acting Top Cop told the COI.
Ramnarine made it clear that he “now has” doubts about Blanhum’s judgment and that the Crime Chief might have been influenced by the Commissioner of Police who allegedly made a call to Blanhum.
He disclosed that it also influenced the manner in which investigations were done because of the association between Persaud and Khan. Ramnarine said that he “formed the impression” that the Top Cop is a friend of Imran Khan, someone he vividly recalled seeing in the Commissioner’s conference room at certain functions and one or two other places.
Ramnarine stated the Crime Chief assured him that the men would have returned having been granted pre-trial liberty.
He said he was later asked by President David Granger to compile a report, which he did, using statements from Gillard and Nizam Khan and that he believed the police were building a foundation.
When further questioned by Slowe, Ramnarine added that based on what he saw “significant progress” was not being made.
“The story being told by Gillard had a lot of twists and turns and he had begun to mention names and so on…And without contacting those persons, one would not have been able to say that significant progress has been made.”
Ramnarine further added that Deputy Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent of Police, Rishi Dass briefed him twice about what progress was being made in the probe and the fact that police were given legal advice to make contact with certain persons.
He stated that the Police Legal Advisor (Justice Claudette Singh) told him that she saw something in the statements to the effect that a call was allegedly made by the Commissioner of Police. When a report on the matter came to him he stated he was not satisfied that it “embodied” all the legal advice police had gotten.
“Having had prior knowledge that the Police Legal Advisor had indicated something to me, I said to Senior Superintendent Dass to bring the last bit of legal advice that we (police) were given.”
One point to be investigated in that advice was the alleged phone call made by the Commissioner of Police, Ramnarine revealed.
He said that he could not say whether the point was cleared up because he was no longer in charge since Persaud, the Substantive Police Commissioner, had returned to work.
He, however, added that some amount of work was done.
Ramnarine told Slowe that he acted as Commissioner of Police from February 13 to March 31, 2017.
When questioned by Attorney-at-Law Selwyn Pieters who is representing Reporter Travis Chase, Ramnarine related that he received a DVD from Assistant Commissioner of Police Sydney James who later reported to Chase that he had handed it over with a written memorandum.
According to Ramnarine he did not keep a copy nor did he review it because it would have been better for the CID and the Head of Special Branch Unit to review the DVD and because he does not possess the necessary equipment in his office.
He also said that at that time he thought he was preparing to go to an external engagement. Ramnarine could not recall the contents of the memorandum but stated that he called the Crime Chief and indicated to James that CID had been conducting an investigation and whatever is contained in the disc might be helpful to the investigation.
Under cross-examination by Pieters, Ramnarine said that the Commissioner of Police has been seen by him in the company of Nizam Khan or vice versa on more than one occasion before the alleged plot came to light.
In late April 2017, he became aware that Nizam Khan and Persaud apparently shared a business relationship but he (Ramnarine) had never taken steps to ascertain the nature of that relationship or to report it to anyone higher than the Commissioner of Police.
He said that he would have spoken to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, “only if the information is wholly and solely authentic”. But at the same time he did not concur that it was authentic.
During a security meeting, Ramnarine said he provided an update on the probe into the alleged assassination plot and that he faced several questions.
This, he added, made him realize that there was indication of the possible involvement of senior members of the force in the early stages of the arrest of the men.
When concerns were raised about the sluggishness and unprofessional conduct of the probe, Ramnarine said he summoned the Crime Chief, Head of Special Branch Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Operations, and Commander of Police ‘A’ Division on May 16, 2017 and told them that the probe was attracting serious attention and that “we” (police) were not carrying out investigations with the forthrightness it ought to have been proceeded with.
Persaud is expected to testify on Monday.
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