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War of words as Trinidad email scandal heats up

Bert Wilkinson | 6/20/2013, 2:36 p.m. | Updated on 6/25/2013, 2:36 p.m.
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The local police have yet to speak on the authenticity of emails purporting to show a plot by high-level officials in Trinidad to harm an inquisitive local journalist, promote the fiercely independent chief state prosecutor out of his current job and even bug his office; however, the office of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says that according to experts it has hired to study the alleged transmissions, they are all phony.

Citizens of this oil- and gas-rich southernmost Caribbean island just north of Venezuela have been paying keen attention to the scandal ever since Opposition Leader Keith Rowley waved documents in Parliament late last month detailing an alleged plot by the prime minister, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Security Adviser Gary Griffith to cause political mayhem in the country—documents authorities dismiss as forgeries.

In the past week, Persad-Bissessar and Ramlogan say that experts they have hired to scrutinize the emails ahead of the completion of an official probe have already cast serious doubts on them and are even now suggesting that Rowley could be indicted on public mischief charges when the smoke clears.

The prime minister’s office announced as the workweek began that 77 “fatal flaws” have been found in the emails, including incorrect addresses and insertions on some of the printed documents that were handed to the opposition leader by a still unnamed source.

“There can be no other conclusion but that this document is a poorly constructed fraud. The analysis of this document provided overwhelming proof of its fraudulent nature. There are many inconsistencies and questionable points that, by themselves, would easily lead any analyst to the conclusion that none of the documents can be trusted. More importantly, there are several fatal flaws, which would remove any doubt or opinion from even the most skeptical analyst. What is left is simple fact.”

But even as authorities think they have the upper hand because of pronouncements from their own experts, Rowley is sticking to his original demand for international experts to examine the transmission, because local police admittedly do not have the expertise to conduct a proper investigation and remain under the command of the political directorate.

He is even accusing Persad-Bissessar and Ramlogan of trying to prejudice the probe by pronouncing on it just days after police have started their working on the case.

“Like the rest of the national population, the People’s National Movement [PNM] remains alarmed by the government’s flagrant attempt to tamper with an ongoing police investigation by interfering with and attempting to prejudice the evidence now being probed by the police. The PNM demands to know whether taxpayer funds have been utilized by both the office of the attorney general and the office of the prime minister to fund the supposedly expert opinions, which they have managed to procure in an attempt to derail the police investigation and render themselves innocent ahead of the completion of the inquiry,” Rowley said.

Critics say that while the back and forth between the two sides have made for a soap opera-like drama, ordinary citizens will not know who to believe until the findings of independent investigators are published in a matter of weeks, if not months.