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Trinidad: Prime Minister wants apology, retraction of statement from opposition legislator

By CMC

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Opposition MP Dr. Roodal Moonilal (Left) and Prime Minister Dr. keith Rowley (File Photo)

(CMC) – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is demanding that opposition legislator Dr. Roodal Moonilal apologise in writing and retract a statement he made earlier this month linking him to a “beneficiary bank account” in the United States.

In a pre-action protocol letter sent to Moonilal and dated October 12, the opposition legislator is given 14 days to issue the “written under-taking” not to “repeat the allegations complained of in any form whatever and wherever”.

Rowley is also seeking “payment of a substantial sum in damages” as well as the payment of his legal costs.

Moonlal had told Parliament last Tuesday that he had travelled to Miami on several occasions as he investigated the issue and that his information had “pointed me to a bank in Florida, C and C International Trading Regents Bank.”

Moonilal said the bank has documents calling for additional attention, addressed to two people, one Vidia Deokiesingh, who is implicated in the TT$100 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) “fake oil scandal and a second name he could not call in Parliament.

But in a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rowley said he wanted to set the record straight and described the statements by Moonilal as “spurious and wholly untrue”.

Rowley recalled that Moonlial had made similar allegations last December and was forced to withdraw them and that the opposition legislator aware of the fact that the proceedings are carried and broadcast live via radio, television and on the world wide web to a global audience to malign, is again attempting “to damage me, and other members of the government with complete fabrications of untruths”

In his pre-action protocol letter, Rowley’s attorney Michael Quamina said that failure to respond by October 26 would result in legal action being undertaken.

He said that the words uttered by Moonilal both in and out of the Parliament were “false and defamatory”.

“I further hold the view that the statements made by you outside of the Parliament amount in law, to an adoption, confirmation and re-publication of your contribution in Parliament and will therefore be actionable under the law of defamation in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” Quamina wrote.

In the past, Moonilal has said that he maintains his position despite the threat of legal action, saying “I am standing by what I said on the Hansard record”.

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