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Kamla, Moonilal want answers on pastor’s claims

UNC Political Leader and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has demanded answers on who is the alleged minister with so-called “underworld links”. She also called for the Government to halt the property tax and revert to the 2009 land and building taxes.

“People can tolerate a slight increase against those 2009 rates, but these property tax valuations are wicked and unfair,” Persad-Bissessar added at UNC’s Monday night cottage meeting at Pointe-a-Pierre.

Following Pastor Ian Brown’s claim that he was a spy with the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), Persad-Bissessar demanded answers on the identity of the government official whom Brown alleged has “underwork links”.

Persad-Bissessar said, “This man is brave and bold to say so—who is this government ‘official’?

“Did the Government send TTPS to raid the pastor’s house because they’re afraid the pastor may have information on alleged criminal activities related to this Government? Who are the ‘two ministers’ the SSA was ‘surveilling’?

“They have the TTPS wildly searching buildings for this information. But this information may already be in some people’s mailboxes.”

Persad-Bissessar slammed it as a frightening, dangerous sign that the SSA now has what she called a “hand-picked” person as its head. “Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors—the big distraction and narrative that there was a significant national security threat,” she added.

Retired Brigadier and former ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer was appointed as acting director of the SSA after Major Roger Best, the agency’s director, was sent on administrative leave.

Meanwhile, UNC deputy political leader Dr Roodal Moonilal said the country needs a credible explanation on the expanding issues concerning the Strategic Services Agency including the three-year employment of Pastor Brown.

He said explanations are also needed on whether Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher is aware of the “senior police official” with whom Brown allegedly met.

Moonilal made the call via a statement yesterday after Brown’s recent claims on the SSA issue. The SSA’s director Major Roger Best was sent on administrative leave two weeks ago and an audit has been launched by the new acting director retired Brigadier Anthony Phillips-Spencer. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the decision to remove Best was based on troubling information provided to the National Security Council (NSC) by the TTPS.

Police recently raided the home of Brown who claimed to have been a “SSA spy” and SR officer who “worked closely with past and present police commissioners.”

Brown also alleged to have information on “government official” and “underworld ties”.

Moonilal said, “The country needs a credible explanation for the three-year employment of Pastor Brown, including his bona-fide accreditation as a Special Reserve Policeman. Commissioner Harewood-Christopher must respond to his stunning spying disclosures and indicate the nature and extent of his duties.

“The current and former senior police officials identified by Pastor Brown must tell the country all they know about the bizarre sequence of developments leading to the shocking implosion of the SSA.

“Police Commissioner Harewood-Christopher must state whether she is aware of the senior police official with whom Pastor Brown regularly met in surreptitious Watergate-style to discuss highly confidential intelligence material.”

Moonilal added, “The Commissioner has a responsibility to indicate whether she knew of the investigation by the intelligence organisation into two alleged prominent government ministers for alleged ties to the underworld and widespread corruption.

“The country deserves to know whether the unprecedented midnight raid of SSA offices and the pre-dawn search of Pastor Brown’s home by some 100 police officers were aimed at seizing documents pertinent to the sensitive probe.”

Moonilal alleged “evidence suggests” that the crackdown last weekend, “was meant to destroy relevant evidence and get rid of and persecute the investigators.”

He added, “This matter is extremely troubling and reveals an appalling abuse of power by the authoritarian Rowley administration and the outrageous undermining of critical independent institution.”

Moonilal said the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security failed the country by its refusal to investigate the matter and ascertain the facts. Moonilal said T&T was still awaiting disclosure on Best’s removal and the return of Phillips-Spencer to run the SSA.

Hinds: Not taking

‘lady’ seriously

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds responded to calls from Guardian Media regarding the call for answers by the UNC and Opposition Leader.

Hinds said he does not take Persad-Bissessar seriously.

“I don’t take that lady seriously! She’s nothing more than an unsober, unsteady, unprincipled, unwanted loser. She dwells in the “un”! The Opposition Leader was the single prime minister, who lead the most corrupt government this country has ever known! You just have to watch and recall her choices, her friends and her government of 2010, to see the real underworld. A murky world in which she reigns supreme,” Hinds said.

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