Port of Spain, 10 May. 06 [AlterPresse] --- Prime Minister Patrick Manning has been accused of spying on judges in an attempt to control the judiciary.
In fact, Manning is being accused of not only focusing his personal “spying machine” on judges but lawyers as well, former Attorney General Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj says.
Refusing to disclose his source but not backing down from his accusations, Maharaj made the disclosure yesterday at a meeting of East Port-of-Spain residents at Duncan Street.
“A lot of pressure is being put on judges,” Maharaj claimed.
“As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister has declared that he is going to keep files on all the judges.”
The shocking statements were met with eerie silence from the residents gathered.
Later questioned by reporters, Maharaj insisted he would not have made such an announcement unless he was sure of his sources.
He alleged that Manning was attempting to control the judiciary by using his “spy tactics” and even joked that the national security blimp spent hours over his house every night.
Maharaj said the independence of the judiciary was at risk.
He added that he was prepared to write to the PM and Chief Justice Sat Sharma on the matter.
He admitted that he had not discussed the matter with other members of the judiciary, but said, “I feel sure that a lot of them are aware of it.”
Maharaj claimed the PM also made the statement directly to members of the legal profession.
While he openly invited Manning to keep as many files as he wished on him, Maharaj said he did not doubt that a dossier already existed.
He even went as far as to question the partiality of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the judges chosen to function there.
When asked if the PM’s alleged spying had anything to do with former Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday’s case, in which he was found guilty of failing to declare a London bank account under the Integrity in Public Life Act, Maharaj replied “no.”
He said he believed the PM’s alleged spying was in progress before the case was determined. [Deceyon Exilus gp apr 10/05/2006 10:30]