Thursday 28 May, 2020

Senator calls for TTDF Camp Cumuto report to be made public

Government has not yet responded to claims by former chief of defence staff, Major General Kenrick Maharaj, who has denied any involvement in photos showing Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi's two children posing with military weapons at Camp Cumuto.

Foreign Minister Dennis Moses, speaking on behalf of National Security Minister Edmund Dillon in Parliament on Tuesday, said once procedures are followed the full report of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force's Board of Inquiry made into the matter may be made public.

He was speaking in response to an urgent question raised by Opposition Senator Wade Mark in Parliament on Tuesday. 

“I understand that the Honourable Member would have requested relevant information and notwithstanding the enquiry being an internal one, in view of the Honourable Member’s position and also as a matter of public interest, responses would have been forwarded to the Honourable Member.”

“I understand that recently, almost verbatim, a detailed version would have appeared in the press. There are procedures involved in securing the information, and once they are followed, the report can be made public,” Moses said.

Mark then asked whether government would want to reconsider its position regarding tabling the report in Parliament.

“I am not sure whether the procedures that attend releasing such a report involves bringing it to Parliament as suggested by the Honourable Member,” Moses said.

Details of an investigation launched by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force's Board of Inquiry cleared Al-Rawi of any wrongdoing, saying that the range practice had been authorised by Maharaj, and that Al-Rawi’s children “were not allowed to have the to have high-powered weapons belonging to the Defence Force in the presence of the Attorney General and members of the TTDF”.

The details of the incident were revealed after Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge wrote to the TTDF to reveal the findings of the BOI under the Freedom of Information Act.

In a letter, Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier General Rodney Smart  said that Al-Rawi was invited by the TTDF to witness a tactical display and that Major General Maharaj, acting ‘on his own volition’, authorised the range practice.

The BOI said the range practice is a “standard procedure which is offered to all high-risk national leaders who come under the protection of members of the Defence Force’s Special Operations elements.”

“Consequently, there was no evidence that any member of the Defence Force was coerced into breaching any practice or procedure,” the letter said.

The BOI added that there had been no abuse of power on the part of the Attorney General.

Maharaj, however, has denied the allegations. 

Senator Sturge said he has replied the TTDF, asking for the full report.

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