Trinidad justice minister fired over controversial law

PORT OF SPAIN, Sept 21: Trinidad and Tobago’s justice minister, Herbert Volney, was fired over a controversial law that could allow charges to be dropped against more than a dozen people facing corruption charges, including two men wanted in the United States.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said Volney, a member of parliament of the ruling coalition, had deceived the government by assuring the cabinet that the proclamation of the new law had been approved by the country’s Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
In a televised national address last night Persad-Bissessar apologized to the country and called Volney’s actions a “serious misrepresentation.”
A clause in the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act, which was passed last November and came into effect at the end of last month, established a statute of limitation for alleged crimes more than 10 years old.
As a result of the law, the government came under a barrage of criticism from a broad cross-section of the two-island Caribbean nation, including trade unions, lawyers and business groups.
In an emergency session last week, the parliament voted to repeal the controversial Section 34 of the law, but some legal analysts said those who had already applied for relief under the new law might still be able to have their cases  dropped.
Among those who could benefit were businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson who are wanted in the United States on corruption charges related to the construction of a billion dollar international airport in  Trinidad.
Galbaransingh is a major financial backer of the United National Congress (UNC), one of the main political parties in the People’s Partnership coalition government, according to local media reports.


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