ANAND ON .75 MILLION BAIL
On trial now. Former People’s Partnership attorney general Anand Ramlogan, who has become the country’s first former AG to be charged with criminal offences, will appear in court tomorrow on two charges.
Ramlogan, 45, who was detained at dawn on Tuesday for questioning on witness-tampering allegations made by Police Complaints Authority chairman David West, was charged in the matter 36 hours later, around dusk yesterday.
The two charges which were laid against Ramlogan at approximately 5.32 pm were misbehaviour in public office and obstruction of justice. Ramlogan was charged at the Criminal Investigations Division on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. He was taken there very late on Tuesday night after being questioned at the nearby Police Headquarters for 12 hours earlier.
The charges arise from allegations in a report made by West to the Commissioner of Police on January 28, 2015, according to the T&T Police Service yesterday.
Ramlogan was granted bail in the sum of $750,000 covering both charges. He was released from police custody around 6.45 pm.
At the end of yesterday’s long day, Pamela Elder, SC, lead attorney of Ramlogan’s legal team, told the media, “My client has been charged with two offences, one of common law - misbehaviour in public life - and the other, under the Criminal Offences Act, for obstruction of justice.
“These charges are very serious allegations ... very serious allegations being made against my client, who has been a former attorney general who has served this country with distinction.
“He’s a person with unblemished character and I patiently and eagerly await the day when the person who has made these allegations against my client appears in court and supports them - we await him.”
Elder was surrounded by other members of Ramlogan’s legal team - attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Wayne Sturge, Alvin Pariagsingh and Sean Sobers.
Minutes after Elder finished speaking and the team left, Ramlogan also left the CID compound. His exit, however, was cloaked and he did not speak to reporters.
While the process of charges and bail was taking place inside the CID building around 6.10 pm, outside, his black SUV was driven by an aide into the CID compound through the Sackville Street entrance.
Soon after his legal team left, the vehicle emerged from the CID compound with Ramlogan in the back seat. He was glimpsed wearing a long-sleeved white shirt. The SUV then sped off.
Two of Ramlogan’s brothers and his cousin, who had arrived around 4.40 pm along with former People’s Partnership minister Devant Maharaj - all immediately left after Ramlogan did.
PoS Magistrate hears case tomorrow
Police said yesterday that the charges were laid following consultation with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Apart from alleged misbehaviour in public office, the other charge of obstruction of justice alleges the following: That Ramlogan, in the county of St George West, “reasonably believing that West was a potential witness in judicial proceedings, did use threats, bribery or other means to dissuade West from giving evidence, contrary to Section 11 (2A) of the Criminal Offences Act.”
Ramlogan will appear before a Port-of-Spain Magistrate tomorrow to answer the charges. They were laid by acting ASP Arrlet Groome (Fraud Squad.)
Legal sources said Ramlogan - an officer of the court and former legal adviser to the PP Cabinet - created history by becoming the first former AG to be charged with criminal offences.
They noted one-time AG Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj was jailed years ago - prior to becoming AG - for contempt of court, but this was for refusing to apologise to a judge.
The CID location where Ramlogan spent yesterday and was charged sits next to the Cabildo Chambers where he was formerly based as AG during the PP’s tenure.
The laying of the charges against Ramlogan marked the end of a long 36 hours of police custody - between Tuesday and yesterday - for the former AG
After his arrest at his Palmiste, San Fernando home around 6 am Tuesday, he was taken to Police Headquarters, PoS, where he was grilled for 12 hours with 189 questions.
Later that night - after 10 pm - police sources said Ramlogan was moved to a room at CID headquarters, obliquely opposite Police Headquarters. This, while police reviewed information on the matter and awaited instructions from the DPP.
A decision was expected yesterday morning. Media and other people gathered near the PoS Magistrates’ Court from early. But they waited in vain.
Ramlogan and his legal team were also ready very early. One of his aides emerged from the CID compound around 8.45 am with a tote bag and plastic bag containing towels and other items, including a blue travel pillow.
By 10 am, rumours were flying that instructions had been given to charge Ramlogan and he’d been charged - but that didn’t happen until seven hours later.
Lead attorney Elder, who arrived at CID around 11.20 am to ascertain what was taking place, told reporters then, “Our client hasn’t yet been charged. It’s becoming a bit oppressive now since he’s been in continuous detention since 6 am (Tuesday) and has co-operated fully with police officers.
“You’d appreciate he’s been arrested on reasonable suspicion that he committed an offence and this investigation has been going on for some two years now, so a reasonable expectation is that if charges are to be laid they’d have already been laid.”
On whether the situation had anything to do with political victimisation, Elder added, “That thought hasn’t entered my mind at all.”
Elder, Ramdeen, Sturge and Pariagsingh, who remained conferring on the situation, were joined by veteran Justice of the Peace Ackbar Khan.
Khan said Ramlogan “... wasn’t feeling too well. I gave instructions for him to have a room and bed so he can relax a bit, he’s comfortable.”
Police sources also confirmed Ramlogan didn’t appear to be “well.” He was said to be napping at one point.
But last night after Ramlogan left CID, his attorney Ramdeen said, “He’s fine now, he isn’t ill.”
When the situation did begin to move towards the laying of the charges - from around 4.45 pm - Elder returned to CID with another Justice of the Peace after Khan left earlier.
Yesterday, the Opposition UNC issued a directive to officials not to comment on the matter until the situation was clear. The Law Association also cautioned the public about comments and “inflaming political passions” with it.