PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC –Attorney Christlyn Moore was sworn in as the new Justice Minister in the People’s Partnership government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, less than a week after her predecessor Herbert Volney was sacked for providing “erroneous advice” to the government on the early implementation of certain clauses of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.
Moore, a criminal lawyer from the sister isle of Tobago, said that she was pleased that a woman of “incredible strength and character” as Prime Minister Persad Bissessar, had appointed her to serve in the Cabinet.
She said she regarded her appointment as “an opportunity to serve Trinidad and Tobago” and brushed aside concerns that she had been the private attorney to both Prime Minister Persad Bissessar and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
“Not many attorneys could boast of a clientele so august,” she told reporters after taking the oath of office from Acting Timothy Hamel Smith.
Media reports indicate that Moore has been involved in several high-profile matters including lawsuits brought by Ramlogan against Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley for defamatory statements allegedly made at a media conference last year relating to the extradition of businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
She also served as legal counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into the July 27, 1990 coup attempt by the leader of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen Group, Yasin Abu Bakr and was one of the attorneys who issued a pre-action protocol letter to former Urban Development Corporation (UDeCOTT) Chief Operating Officer Neelanda Rampaul, on behalf of Ramlogan.
She was a member of the legal team which sent a pre-action protocol letter on behalf of Prime Minister Persad Bissessar to Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds in August 2011, with respect to statements made about the prime minister and the Integrity Commission regarding her stay at the home of businessman Ralph Gopaul.
In a 30 minute address to the nation last Thursday night, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said that she had dismissed Volney, a former High Court judge, because he had misled the Cabinet when he said that the Chief Justice Ivor Archie and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Roger Gaspard had supported the idea of the early proclamation of section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act
The government earlier this month called an emergency session of parliament to repeal the controversial clause that had the effect of allowing people, whose trial has not started after a 10-year period to walk free and a verdict of not guilty.
Critics say the clause was intended to free businessmen Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, who have been described as financiers of the ruling United National Congress (UNC), the biggest partner in the four-member coalition People’s Partnership government.
The two are facing fraud and laundering charges relating to the re-development of the Piarco International Airport in 2001. They are also wanted in the United States on a number of related charges.
Their attorneys have petitioned the local court to have the charges against them dismissed citing Section 34 of the Act.
The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has given Prime Minister Persad Bissessar until Wednesday to dismiss Ramlogan for his role in the matter and the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) said Wednesday it was supportive of the call by the opposition.
JTUM leader Ancel Roget said that a meeting is planned for Friday involving Rowley, the JTUM and David Abdulah , the leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) thatquit the coalition government earlier this year.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ramlogan dismissed the call for his resignationinsisting that the legislation had the approval of the entire parliament.