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Clean investigation needed

The staggering claims made by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley during the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Monday exceeded any expectations of politics as usual.

Rowley offered a damning trail of alleged e-mail evidence that outlined a sequence of governance misjudgements which include suggestions of an effort at silencing a T&T Guardian journalist in pursuit of a legitimate story, a plan to silence the Director of Public Prosecutions, thereby tainting the independence of the Judiciary, and a conspiracy to subvert the course of justice in the Section 34 matter.

It must be noted here that these are allegations, not proven fact, despite the inflammatory nature of the e-mail transcripts and the public reaction to them.

The Opposition Leader must have known that his revelations would not only be cross-examined but also would need to withstand the type of investigative scrutiny appropriate to this level of allegation against a sitting government. The government for its part has responded appropriately, if passionately, to the allegations and called for the acting commissioner of police to investigate. It is here that an interjection should be made in the process of public interest as well as in support of the transparent execution of justice through investigation.

On a matter of this magnitude, it’s appropriate to point out the failings of the police service in handling crimes and the frequent collapse of cases through poor evidence-handling. The CoP would be hard put to point to any reliable local asset in the service capable of thoroughly investigating this matter.

This newspaper therefore calls on the commissioner to raise the game of the force on this matter by requesting specialised and independent investigators to examine the evidence in this case.

There is no shame in admitting that conclusively proving any of these allegations through the footprints of the e-mails which the Opposition Leader claims to have in his possession may not only lie outside the capabilities of the police service, but also beyond its capacity to act independently in such a highly charged political matter.

The recent collapse of the Sea Lots probe because of poor handling of the evidence is only the most recent example of such shortfalls in police capacity. This is a matter which will demand knowledgeable interactions with international e-mail services, forensic dissection of the electronic trails embedded in digital documents and the building or disproving of a case to the satisfaction of the public at large, which is already polarised in the wake of Rowley’s statements.

This is a scandal which calls into question the prime minister, the former president of the republic and the leader of the opposition in a move that can only be described as political brinksmanship.

This is not a matter in which the aftermath can be measured in nuances. Someone is telling the truth, and someone is not. Political careers and personal reputations, not to mention the nation’s future, will be forever changed by the results of this probe. It must be managed to a professionally handled, thoroughly conducted and unassailably defined final assessment.

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