Four police officers suspended as part of a probe into the release of millions of dollars in cash seized from Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) last year, have been given the nod to sue Police Commissioner Gary Griffith over his approval of foreign investigators.
High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo yesterday granted leave to the officers, who cannot be identified as they are yet to be charged, to pursue their judicial review case against Griffith’s office.
In the court filings obtained by Guardian Media, the Inspector, Sargeant (Sgt) and two police constables (PCs) are claiming that Griffith wrongly used his discretion to appoint the two police officers from Barbados as Special Reserve Police (SRPs) for them to lead the probe.
“Properly interpreted, the Special Reserve Police Act was not intended and/or does not authorize the appointment of persons as Special Reserve Police Officers for the purpose of conducting criminal investigations,” the group’s lawyers said.
They noted that investigators should be independent and insulated from political control and SRPs are generally usually used to help supplement police officers with surveillance and physical presence.
“It was not intended to create a parallel police force to conduct criminal investigations under general direction and/or order of the executive and/or the Minister of National Security,” they said.
The group’s attorneys pointed to public statements made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and National Security Minister Stuart Young, in which they highlighted their roles in procuring the services of the foreign investigators.
They contended that Griffith allowed both office holders to fetter his exclusive discretion to appoint SRPs.
“From the aforementioned facts, the Intended Defendant did not give consideration to these appointments but has appointed these persons at the direction and behest of either the Prime Minister or the Minister of National Security,” they said.
They claimed that when their clients asked the foreign investigators for copies of their statements given to them they were allegedly told that they (the investigators) had to report their work to Young.
Through the lawsuit, the officers are seeking a declaration that the appointments, made in December, last year, were unlawful and a corresponding order quashing them.
The group’s lawyers were careful to note that their clients were challenging the exercise of Griffith’s discretion while maintaining their innocence in relation to the overall probe.
“Suffice it to say, that the Intended Claimants maintain that at all material times they have fulfilled their professional duties to the best of their ability and in accordance with the law,” they said.
According to reports, the cash, estimated to be $22 million, was seized as officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) and other divisions raided DSS’s headquarters at Kathleen Warner Drive in La Horquetta in September, last year.
The cash was lodged at the La Horquetta Police Station but was later returned.
There were subsequent raids on the organisation, during which lesser amounts of cash were found and seized. Those sums of money are being held via court order.
The police officers are being represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, and Rhea Khan.