January 21, 2001 By Express Editorial

Little regard shown for law

IT MUST be the most supreme of ironies that the two matters exercising the mind of the body politic right now are a battle between a government holding on to office by way of two MPs whose election appear to be in flagrant violation of the Constitution (and whose members have just elected as Speaker a former MP who crossed the floor in another violation) and a President whose refusal to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, is also said to be without any constitutional basis.

All parties, however, take oaths “to uphold the Constitution and the Law” and as the current impasses continue, the real damage being done must be to the public regard for the law.

Given this, and the events of the past week, we make no apologies for returning once again to the criminal case against the MPs for Pointe-a-Pierre and Ortoire/Mayaro, William Chaitan and Winston “Gypsy” Peters respectively. Despite clear evidence that both men signed false statutory declarations in order to qualify to contest the last general election, there has been what can only be described as deliberate foot dragging in the prosecution of the matter.

Police investigators, after concluding their investigations, sent their report to the DPP. The DPP has insisted that before charges could be laid the police must procure concrete evidence from the Canadian and US governments of the MPs citizenship. The police claim to have made the requests through the Foreign Affairs Ministry and to have been told that the two foreign governments, due to their secrecy laws, could not honour such requests.

Contacted by this newspaper, however, the two embassies deny ever receiving any such requests. The Foreign Affairs Minister can shed no light on the situation, and neither can the police.

Fast forward to Wednesday, January 17 when Dr Fenton Ramsahoye produces in court evidence of not only the foreign citizenships but the attempts by the two MPs to renounce them. To make matters worse, Mr Chaitan’s application to renounce his citizenship was filed on November 13, one week before Nomination Day (November 20) and in the document, he stated clearly that the move was initiated by his attempt to qualify for the election.

It should be quite obvious then that not only did Mr Chaitan file a false declaration that he bore no allegiance to a foreign power, but that he did so knowingly since he would have known that his application could not have been processed in time.

Even more amazing however, is that despite all this clear evidence sitting in the Registry of the Supreme court and available to any member of the public, the police, according to acting Commissioner Everald Snaggs, are still unable to act. This is simply incredible. But given all that has transpired so far, it shouldn’t be.

The Constitution and the Law provide that anyone convicted of an election- related offence be debarred from holding elected office and that their election be voided.

Is there more to this delay than we are being led to believe?

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