By Exilus Deceyon
Port of Spain Jan. 24, 06 [AlterPresse] --- National Security Minister Martin Joseph has confirmed that former United States Drug Enforcement Agency associate Vernon Paul tried to contact him regarding an alleged link between high-ranking ruling PNM officials and a plot to destabilise the UNC in the 2002 general election.
In a statement he delivered during yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, Joseph said he did not speak with Paul because of his reputation.
This week’s Sunday Guardian exclusively reported that Paul, who is now living in Venezuela under protective custody, said he knows who put the five kilogrammes of cocaine and two mortar bombs in UNC MP Sadiq Baksh’s water tanks in 2002.
Opposition Senator Roodal Moonilal, who was contributing to the debate on the Occupational Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill gave way to Joseph, a government senator, at 4.15 pm so that he could make his statement.
Joseph said Paul attempted to contact him at the National Security Ministry on December 12, 2005.
“Mr Speaker, being aware of Mr Vernon Paul and being aware of what it is that Mr Vernon Paul wanted to specifically provide information on, I assure you Mr Paul spoke to a senior official-a law enforcement official at the Ministry of National Security,” he said.
An opposition member asked Joseph if he spoke with Paul.
“I deliberately did not speak with Mr Paul because I know of Mr Paul,” Joseph said.
“He is known to us in security reports.”
Joseph said he referred the matter to Police Commissioner Trevor Paul.
Joseph said two senior police investigators were scheduled to go to Venezuela on December 14, 2005 but were delayed because of some problems with T&T’s “air assets” and eventually travelled on a commercial airline.
“As a result two investigative officers went to Caracas on the 21st December, 2005 and met Mr Paul at the Marriott Caracas (hotel) where extensive discussions took place with Mr Paul,” Joseph said.
“The commissioner, however, told us that the information provided by Mr Paul to the investigating officers, I was advised, did not advance the investigation.”
“Mr Paul did not provide detailed information, I understand he gave little information and inquired about protection if he is to support the police in their investigation.”
Joseph said Paul promised to send three detailed, notarised statements signed by himself and two from Venezuelan nationals who would support his allegations.
Joseph said the police commissioner’s office received three envelopes purportedly from Paul on January 17, 2006 that contained two unsigned statements.
Joseph said on December 21, 2005, Paul produced a signed statement to the two investigating officers dated April, 2005, but denied its contents and said his signature was electronically affixed.
Joseph then referred to yesterday’s press conference held by the police commissioner and said Paul’s allegations are still under investigation by the police.
“There are (sic) information that we have that we cannot at this point in time disclose,” Joseph sad.
“The Government has a responsibility for the protection of the State and as a result is fully cognisant of activities and actions that are designed to compromise the security and safety of this State and this Government will do nothing to allow persons who are bent on compromising the safety and security of this country to allow it to happen.” [ed gp apr 24/01/2006 22:30]