Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2017 Contents JOEL JULIEN
The head of this country's De-
fence Force and his immediate
predecessor are now in a war
of words over Attorney General
Faris Al-Rawi's children use of
the shooting range at Camp Cu-
muto, where they were eventu-
ally photographed holding what
appeared to be high-powered
Former chief of defence staff
Kenrick Maharaj yesterday denied
having anything to do with the sit-
uation, despite a letter from current
Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier
General Rodney Smart saying he
(Maharaj) "acting on his own voli-
tion" authorised the visit.
Maharaj said the letter from the
T&T Defence Force signed by Smart
claiming he authorised the visit, was
written with "an underlying intent
to cause mischief" and is "disturb-
ingly misleading." He is now calling
on Smart to "retract and amend" the
Photographs of Al-Rawi's chil-
dren holding what appeared to
be high-powered weapons were
brought to the national spotlight
by Opposition Member of Parlia-
ment Dr Roodal Moonilal during
the budget debate last October.
This prompted Prime Minister
Dr Keith Rowley to slam the TTDF
about the situation, saying the leak
of the photographs was a serious
breach of security. Rowley and the
TTDF have said Al-Rawi's children
were the ones who were photo-
graphed, but to date Al-Rawi has
neither confirmed nor denied this.
The TTDF convened a board of
inquiry (BOI) to investigate the sit-
uation and report was presented to
Smart "as a Top Secret document."
On March 27, exercising his rights
under the Freedom of Information
Act, Opposition Senator Wayne
Sturge wrote the TTDF asking that
the inquiry findings be made public.
Sturge also posed six questions to
the TTDF on the situation.
In response, Smart wrote a letter
to Sturge, dated April 25, stating that
the report could not be made pub-
lic because of security reasons, but
answered the other questions posed
to the TTDF.
In the letter, Smart said Maharaj
"acting on his own volition" author-
ised Al-Rawi's children to use the
shooting range at Camp Cumuto on
October 31, 2015, when the photo-
graphs were taken.
Yesterday, Maharaj said this was
the furthest thing from the truth as
he was not even there.
"I did not authorise the range
practice that was conducted at Cu-
muto Barracks on October 31, 2015
and which was attended by the At-
torney General Faris Al-Rawi and
members of his family," Maharaj
"I did not invite the Attorney
General to any military base to at-
tend any range firing activity on Oc-
tober 31, 2015, or at any other time
during my tour of duty as Chief of
Maharaj said he in fact never had
any "communications with the At-
torney General on this matter at any
"I was not at Cumuto Barracks
on October 31, 2015 and I am not
aware who would have received the
Attorney General and his family at
that military installation on that day
and what protocols were observed
accordingly," he said.
Maharaj said he was also never re-
quested to testify before the BOI on
this matter, nor was he contacted by
Smart "in order to offer information
or advice on this matter."
On April 27, two days after Smart
wrote to Sturge, Maharaj said he
called Smart to talk about the "er-
roneous contents" of the letter.
"I communicated with Brigadier
General Smart Chief of Defence
Staff via telephone on April 27,
2017, voicing my concerns about
the erroneous contents of the TTDF
response and the damaging effects
it would have should this document
enter the public domain," Maharaj
"I trusted that Brigadier General
Smart would have taken the correc-
But this did not happen.
Maharaj said he was "gravely con-
cerned" by the letter.
"I am gravely concerned, from a
position of absolute denial in grant-
ing such authorisation, that I was
not informed of testimony to that
effect in the BOI and therefore a
fundamental requirement for me to
attend the BOI to confirm or deny
such an allegation/accusation," Ma-
"Notwithstanding this, it is not-
ed that the statement 'acting on his
own volition' is language commonly
associated with the criminal law en-
vironment and therefore has neg-
ative connotations in that regard.
It is highly unusual to ascribe such
language to the decision making
process of a Chief of Defence Staff,
and so leaves one to wonder in this
circumstance, if there was an un-
derlying intent to cause mischief by
the person who drafted the TTDF
response to Senator Sturge."
Maharaj added: "Even if a Chief
of Defence Staff exercises his 'in-
itiative' in any given instance, his
ultimate decision is usually based on
staff advice (feasibility, suitability
etc) and the subsequent execution
by personnel down the chain of
Maharaj said he is "deeply con-
cerned that the disturbingly mis-
leading statements made in the
TTDF response carry the potential
to do serious harm" to his "character
Most importantly, Maharaj said
the TTDF letter still has not ad-
dressed the issue of whether there
was a breach of the Military (Prohi-
bitions) Act 14 of 1996 by allowing
minors to handle TTDF weapons.
Although Al-Rawi's children
were photographed holding what
appeared to be weapons, the letter
to Sturge stated that "the BOI de-
duced that the Attorney General's
children were not allowed to have
high-powered weapons belonging to
the Defence Force in the presence of
the Attorney General and members
of the TTDF."
Maharaj called on Smart to have
"all the statements in the TTDF's re-
sponse to the FOIA request retracted
and an amended document prepared
and re-submitted" to Sturge. He also
called for "an official public state-
ment, guided by the pursuit of truth
and based on the facts, be made by
the Defence Force to undo the hurt
caused" to him and his family "in
light of this painful and unfortunate
but avoidable faux pas."
Monday, June 5, 2017 guardian.co.ttThey're lying
AG not off the hook---Padarath
While the "buck was passed" to for-
mer Defence Force chief Kenrick Ma-
haraj in the matter of pictures of the
Attorney General's children holding
weapons, the AG isn't "off the hook"
says United National Congress MP
"In view of Mr Maharaj's denial of the
Defence Force report on the issue, there are
now questions on the matter and suspicions
have been raised on the integrity of the re-
port and about those who are involved in
the investigation of this issue," Padarath
Padarath made the comment in the wake
of Maharaj's denial of claims current De-
fence Force Chief of Staff that he (Maharaj),
"acting on his own volition," had authorised
Al-Rawi's children to use the Camp Cumuto
shooting range. Photos of the situation were
brought to Parliament's attention by the
Opposition last October. A Defence Force
report, however, stated the incident didn't
take place in the AG's presence.
But Maharaj yesterday denied he played
any role in the incident.
Addressing this, Padarath said: "Mr Ma-
haraj's comments clearly put him at a dis-
tance from the scenario with the children.
Therefore, where did the Defence Force get
all of the information they have issued and
is this a conspiracy between the Defence
Force leadership and the Attorney General?
"We will be pursuing this further because
the head of the Defence Force must explain."
However, Padarath also added, "Even if
the buck was passed to ex-CDF Maharaj, the
AG has finally confirmed it was his children
and he refused to do that before.
"In public life you put the public interest
before your own. But as an officer with the
duty to uphold the law particularly, he nev-
er admitted it was his children involved. It
appears the whole legal and justice system
is in crisis, from AG to the CJ."
Meanwhile, UNC MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh
yesterday called on the remaining members
of the Education Facilities Company Limit-
ed (EFCL) board to follow chairman Arnold
Piggott's example and resign.
Gopeesingh said Piggott's resignation fol-
lowed serious allegations of corruption, bid
rigging, abuse of office, "squander-mania"
and worker victimisation at EFCL.
"The directors therefore have no moral
authority to continue clinging to public
office following these extensive shocking
revelations. To preserve the integrity of the
audits and EFCL's viability, the directors
must immediately step down or be fired."
Gopeesingh said audit findings must be
sent to the Fraud Squad for independent
enquiry. He added that Education Minis-
ters Anthony Garcia and Lovell Francis, to
whom EFCL's Board reports, must also be
held responsible for alleged wrongdoing
under their watch.
Current Chief of Defence Staff
Brigadier Rodney Smart.
Ex-Army boss disputes report on AG's kids
This was the response from the
TTDF yesterday as it stood by
its statement that former chief
of defence staff Kenrick Maharaj
"acted on his own volition" when
he authorised Attorney General
Faris Al-Rawi's children to use the
shooting range at Camp Cumuto,
where they were eventually pho-
tographed holding what appeared
to be high-powered weapons.
The claim that Maharaj authorised
the trip was made by the TTDF in
a letter signed by Chief of Defence
Staff Brigadier General Rodney
Smart to Opposition Wayne
Sturge dated April 25.
Maharaj yesterday denied he had
anything to do with the situation.
However ,the TTDF last night
issued a statement saying it
was standing by its response to
Sturge. The TTDF also said its
investigation into the matter is
The TTDF confirmed "that written
administrative instructions were
issued for security details of the
Attorney General and others prior
to the Attorney General's atten-
dance to Camp Cumuto by the
invitation of the TTDF."
It added that "all administrative
instructions are provided to the
CDS (Chief of Defence Staff)" and
said it is standing by its letter to
"The TTDF stands by its written
response to Senator Wayne
Sturge issued some six weeks ago
and has closed its investigation,"
the release stated.
ARMY: CASE CLOSED
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