January 9, 2001 Trini News Extract: Express

Cops canít charge Gypsy, Chaitan

AMERICAN and Canadian privacy laws have stalled investigations, police sources said, into allegations that elected Members of Parliament William Chaitan and Winston "Gypsy" Peters made false declarations on their nomination papers.

But both the US Embassy and Canadian High Commission have denied receiving any request.

Acting Canadian High Commissioner Thomas Bearrs said last Friday that enquiries by the Daily Express were the first he had heard of any criminal investigation into the matter.

"I havenít seen anything confirming that the police are investigating this. No one has contacted us. I didnít know there was a formal criminal investigation. But I can tell you that under the Privacy Act we canít release any information on Mr Chaitan. He can tell you [about his Canadian status] but we canít," Bearrs said.

But police said they had a copy of a letter sent to the Foreign Affairs Ministry by the High Commission which denied them access to the information because of the Privacy Act.

At the US Embassy, public affairs officer Gonzalo Gallegos said the embassy treats communication between it and the Government as "privileged information".

He noted that a Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty which this country signed with the US in 1997, stipulates the procedure by which requests for information can be channelled.

"Any requests the Embassy receives from [local] law enforcement agencies would be acted upon in accordance with, and under the procedures described in the treaty. Both the Government and the US Embassy have been fully and promptly responsive to each otherís requests for information under this treaty," a statement from the embassy said.

The Express was informed that no formal request as dictated by the treaty has been received by the embassy.

Director of Public Prosecutions Mark Mohammed had advised police investigators to get the proof that Chaitan and Peters had, or continue to have dual citizenship before the matter could be taken to court.

The police have had to make their request for the information through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All the local documentary evidence required to make the Stateís case has been obtained. but without the proof from the Canadian and American governments, neither man would have a case to answer, one investigator said.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul, assured on Friday though, that the police are continuing investigations into the matter.

Mervyn Assam is the Foreign Affairs Minister.

ARGUMENTS in the constitutional motions of Junior Culture Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters and Junior Energy Minister William Chaitan will begin next week Wednesday.

In the motions, Gypsy and Chaitan are claiming that they were not disqualified from being elected to the House of Representatives because they were citizens of Trinidad and Tobago at the time of their election.

Their attorneys will argue, among other things that all citizens of this country who were allowed to hold dual nationality since 1988 are entitled to be elected to the House of Representatives and cannot be disqualified on that ground.

And defeated PNM General Election candidates Franklin Khan (Ortoire/ Mayaro) and Farad Khan (Pointe-a-Pierre) will be allowed to have their say in the motions.

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