In the past week, Trinidad’s coalition government has been hit by a major political scandal linked to the publication of a set of emails. The communications purportedly detail efforts by authorities to kill a local reporter, bug the office of the chief state prosecutor and set up a system to help two pro-government financiers walk free from criminal prosecution, among other alleged plots.
The emails were unveiled by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley in Parliament, but it has triggered a ferocious set of denials by the administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, which has deemed them to be forgeries designed to bring down her government, which is celebrating three years in office this month.
But by the end of last week, the Trinidad Guardian newspaper added further credence to the allegations by reporting on Friday that security experts had indeed removed a sophisticated listening device from the office of Chief State Prosecutor Roger Gaspard. Standing on the floor of Parliament and waving more than two dozen emails he said were from the prime minister, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Adviser Gary Griffith, Rowley had pointed to one of the exchanges between Ramlogan and Griffith which allegedly plotted the bugging of the prosecutor’s office to keep tabs on what he and his staff were doing.
“We have a problem. Things are getting heated. Need access to taps in DPP office. I want to know what his next move is. How soon can you arrange?” stated one of the exchanges between Ramlogan and Griffith. Like Persad-Bissessar, both have denied ever communicating in such a fashion and plotting to infiltrate the office.
“Right now our best bet will be giving Gaspard a position on the bench. We could also feed our media people that Gaspard was part of the consultation at the Hall of Justice this year and he did not have a problem at the meeting. Let us try the judge position first.
“Have a chat with [Chief Justice Ivor] Archie. Let them offer him the position. Archie is normally cooperative,” said the prime minister.
But the Guardian said that authorities had called in both foreign and local experts to sweep the office of Gaspard and had discovered and removed a high-tech laser listening device from the office last November–around the same time that the opposition leader said such plotting was taking place.
Investigative reporter Deneyse Renne, whose name appeared in some of the emails and who was the target of an alleged plot by the three high officials to discredit her because of her deep government contacts and access to secret documents, works at the same Guardian newspaper.
Battling the issue while police check out the veracity of the emails, Persad-Bissessar has asked the parliamentary speaker to put Rowley before the disciplinary committee because of the serious nature of the allegations and, in the view of authorities, the trouble he has caused by tendering forged documents.
The issue has divided the nation of 1.3 million, with many uncertain about what to believe, so the verdict is now in the hands of a special police team set up to determine whether the three high officials had in fact written them and were actually plotting political wickedness.