Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has asked Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to secure important documents relating to A&V Drilling investigation which could be lost when Petrotrin shuts down.
Persad-Bissessar was speaking with reporters outside the San Fernando High Court shortly after she won her libel lawsuit against Sunshine Newspaper owned by her former Cabinet colleague Jack Warner on Wednesday.
The newspaper was ordered to pay damages and costs, for an article in that newspapers claiming she was facing extradition to the United States for a US$20 m bank account in Japan.
Neither Warner, a representative from the newspaper nor a defence attorney was present in court for the trial.
“While the money is very important I am very happy that I have been vindicated in this matter and that my name is cleared with respect to this very outrageous, delusional allegations that were made against me. This was really scandalous about having money in Japanese bank account,” Persad-Bissessar said.
However, she said she was also dealing with another defamation claim, involving A&V Drilling and she intends to summons Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as her witnesses.
“The other one is a matter brought against me by A&V Drilling with respect to the breaking news that I shared with the country about the fake oil scandal I await that day in court and I am sure I will be totally justified and will win in that matter as well."
Persad-Bissessar said she has written to the Police Commissioner regarding the security of files at Petrotrin which will be used as evidence in the court matter between Petrotrin and A&V Drilling.
She said, “There is an arbitration matter and we are very fearful that with this shutdown of Petrotrin that files will be lost, records will be lost, witnesses will be lost, they will all be fired and therefore with respect to arbitration proceedings we are fearful that given the actions of this government that they’re in fact hiding and will be hiding very important information, files and documents.”
About the case
Through her attorneys led by senior counsel Anand Ramlogan, Persad-Bissessar sued Sunshine Publishing Company Limited, for a front-page article it carried on December 4, 2015, titled "Kamla facing extradition to the US! - For US$20 Million in Japanese Bank" which bore her photograph.
In her witness statement, Persad-Bissessar denied the allegations and argued that the article was baseless and false. Persad-Bissessar was the only witness called to the stand when the trial began before Justice David Harris. No explanation was given for the absence of the defence.
Ramlogan argued that no genuine attempt was made to verify the information and it was done on the eve of the United National Congress internal elections to undermine her prospect in the elections.
The judge ruled that the newspaper article contained libel and ordered it to pay damages, including aggravated and exemplary damages to Persad-Bissessar.
The judge also granted an injunction, preventing the newspaper from further publishing the article or any similar allegations. Damages and costs are to assessed by a Master of the Court at a date to be set. Warner could not be reached for comment.