– Blanhum’s request to return to CoI denied
The Police Legal Adviser (PLA) retired Justice of Appeal Claudette Singh, SC, told the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), into the alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger, that it is her understanding that the allegations are not treasonous and on that ground, she advised that the offence of incitement to commit murder be investigated.
Justice Singh, who has been the Police Legal Adviser since September of 2014, appeared before the CoI on Wednesday to give evidence as it relates to her role in the investigation into the allegations made against Nizam Khan by Andriff Gillard in which he claims that he was offered $7M to assassinate the President.
While being questioned by the Commission’s attorney, James Bond, she said that she first considered the charge of treason but her knowledge and understanding of the term suggested otherwise.
Justice Singh said that she first saw the Police File on the investigation on April 12 and gave her first piece of written advice. She said that there was no evidence to suggest that the story was fabricated by Gillard although he reported the incident some 21 months after.
She had some difficulties with the statement of one witness, Leon Baldeo who alleged that he was offered $50,000 by Gillard to say that he was present when the plot was revealed. He says that the offer was made on March 26. Gillard reported the matter on March 29.
“From the nature of the allegation I gathered it was just Gillard and Nizam Khan. Now therefore when Mr. Baldeo came I paid special attention to his statement because he is saying it was on the 26th (of March) and Gillard went to the Police on the 29th. So why did Gillard not tell the Police someone else was there so that gave me some problems,” she explained.
She told that based on the file she was not of the view that the Police investigation was more aimed at discrediting Gillard’s story as opposed to exposing the entire incident. She added that she thinks the Police was looking at the investigation.
Justice Singh said that she only gave advice based on the file provided and as such, she could not pronounce on the quality of investigation rather she feels that her advice was carried out to an extent.
“My advice was I found the evidence tenuous. I could not, on the state of the evidence, say that Gillard was lying or Mr Khan was innocent. That was why I said the evidence was tenuous in meaning, it was unreliable. I could not in all honesty advise anybody there to be prosecuted,” Justice Singh volunteered.
Justice Singh said the uncertainty about the date of the alleged conversation between Khan and Gillard coupled with the fact that he reported the alleged plot some 21 months after posed challenges since she was unable to give conclusive advice. She added that it also challenged the investigators since they were unable to corroborate Gillard’s story with witnesses.
She further stated that the offence on which Nizam Khan was held was a bail-able one but clarified that she has no jurisdiction over that aspect since the police do not consult her on that and it is not her job to decide that.
The Police Legal Adviser said the investigation remains open, but she gave no specific instructions to the police adding that they are investigators and they know their functions and roles.
Meanwhile the Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum’s request to return to the CoI to give evidence to dispute statements made by acting Police Commissioner, David Ramnarine, was denied.
When Assistant Police Commissioner, Ramnarine, took the stand on July 28 he told the Commission of Inquiry that Blanhum indicated he placed Nizam Khan, the man who allegedly offered his neighbour $7M to kill the president, on bail following a briefing on the morning of March 30 at around 05:30hrs.
He also told that inquiry that he later learnt that Blanhum misled him and that it was substantive Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud, who ordered the release.
In his letter, Blanhum denied briefing Ramnarine on the said date and time.
“I never gave any instructions to grant station bail to Nizam Khan, Imran Khan or Andriff Gillard. Further, at no time did I brief Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine on the status of this investigation at 05:30 hours on the 30th March and I never told him that I granted bail to Nizam Khan because at 05:30 hours on the said date, I had no knowledge that Nizam Khan was placed on station bail. I maintain that I was only informed that Nizam Khan was placed on station bail at about 08:30 hours when Assistant Superintendent of Police Mitchell Caesar briefed me at my morning meeting,” Blanhum wrote.
He noted that he finds it appalling that despite Inspector Prem Narine, ASP Caesar and Commissioner Persaud testimonies, Ramnarine would testify otherwise.
“I would therefore respectfully request that I be given an opportunity to be recalled to give sworn evidence before the Commission of Inquiry to address this issue,” Blanhum concluded.
However, CoI Commissioner Paul Slowe has denied that request.
The public hearing aspect of the CoI comes to an end on Friday when the attorneys will present their closing argument.