Daly, George question PM’s comments on AG
PROMINENT attorneys Martin Daly, SC, and Martin George have both questioned statements by the Prime Minister on Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, recusing himself in the Piarco Airport corruption case.
Addressing a news conference at Piarco International Airport on Saturday, Dr Rowley said the issue of disqualification of Armour in that matter never arose since Armour had recused himself.
On May 2, a US judge automatically disqualified Armour and the law firm Sequor Law from the case on the grounds of an apparent conflict of interest as Armour was both chief prosecutor and a former defence attorney.
Rowley said the matter being debated by the media had nothing to do with Armour’s recusal but rather, “it has to do with people stealing money from this country and trying to get away as their entitlement, evading their day in court and making as much confusion, blowing as much smoke as you can.”
He said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had no moral authority to raise issues against Armour as he described her as “the queen of Section 34.”
Section 34 was a clause introduced to the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Bill 2011 by then Justice Minister Herbert Volney, which allowed for charges to be dropped if a trial had not started ten years after charges were laid.
On June 5, in a statement, Armour claimed he disclosed his apparent conflict of interest to the US lawyers hired to prosecute Kuei Tung and others but admitted he signed-off on related matters involving a co-operating witness, among other administrative issues.
In a second statement on June 8, he indicated his role as a junior attorney, doing legal research and taking notes for Kuei Tung.
On June 20, in another statement, Armour claimed he had a lapse in memory and was never offered a chance to correct the affidavit before the US court, even though he sat in his hotel room in Europe while on vacation with the phone all day on April 27.
On Sunday, Daly said, “It is fantasy that the AG wanted to provide ‘clarification’ to the court in Miami or to ‘rectify’ an error in his affidavit, but was not given an opportunity to do so.”
The veteran attorney added, “The transcript of the proceedings published in two daily newspapers reveal neither a request to provide clarification nor a formal application to provide further evidence.”
For his part, George said there seemed to be conflicting commentaries on this matter. “The best recourse is to have resort to the record.”
George said, “From what has been published in a daily newspaper, which appeared to be an extensive transcript of the record of the proceedings, it seems that the version of events that actually took place in the court, may not appear to support any claim to suggest that there is a prior recusal by the AG.”
This may or may not be changed by the court’s official record. Based on what was published, George said it appeared that the court had disqualified Armour and Sequor Law.
“This came after there was objection raised by the other parties to say there is an inherent conflict of interest here.One is not sure where the Prime Minister is getting his information from.”
Neither Daly nor George chose to comment on Rowley’s questioning of a special meeting by the Law Association’s council on July 15, to debate a motion of no-confidence against Armour with respect to the Piarco case. The request was brought to the Law Association by a group of 40 attorneys.
.In a statement, Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally said, “It is now abundantly clear that the Prime Minister is prepared to go to any lengths to protect his disgraced Attorney General.”
He also criticised Rowley for questioning why the council of the Law Association will debate a motion of no confidence against Armour on July 15.
Rambally hoped the association’s council would condemn Rowley’s statements and defend the integrity of its membership, freedom of association, freedom of expression and the rule of law. Efforts to contact association president Sophia Chote, SC, for a comment on Sunday, were unsuccessful.
BY: CLINT CHAN TACK