Clint Chan Tack
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar questioned on Saturday whether the Law Association is now the Cosa Nostra (a branch of the Sicilian Mafia that operated in the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s).
One of the Cosa Nostra’s hallmarks was strict adherence to the Omertà, a Southern Italian code of silence and code of honour and conduct that places importance on silence in the face of questioning by authorities or outsiders.
She made the reference as she dismissed the association’s condemnation of her calls for the publication of the names of attorneys who supported Attorney General Reginald Armour SC during a vote on a motion of no-confidence against him at the association’s special meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain on July 15.
In a statement, Persad-Bissessar challenged the authenticity of a statement on Friday which criticised her comments on a political platform.
Persad-Bissessar recalled that association president Sophia Chote SC said she would not be commenting on the meeting.
The association’s statement, she claimed, raises certain questions.
“What accounts for this U-turn?”
“How many members were consulted prior to the issuance of this self-serving release. Was there wide consultation with members or was consultation restricted to fragile grovellers only?”
“Is this U-turn because of my comments pointing out the failure of some to disclose serious conflicts of interest as recipients of state board appointments and/or multi-million-dollar state briefs have bruised fragile egos?
Persad-Bissessar reiterated her belief that because many attorneys were “afraid to publicly express their views on this matter speaks to the unacceptable culture of secrecy that is being propped up by some self-serving and grovelling members.”
She said the motion of no-confidence against Armour is not a simple matter and the public should know which attorneys defended him.
Persad-Bissessar listed what she claimed were “ridiculous and puerile statements” made by some attorneys who defended Armour.
She reiterated her call for the transcripts of the July 15 meeting to be made public.
“Failure to do so will only do damage to the organisation in the eyes of a discerning and educated public.”
She also reiterated her claims that the attorneys who supported Armour “failed to disclose that they were in receipt of large state briefs and/or state board positions.”
Persad-Bissessar said Armour is mistaken if he believes he can be protected from public accountability by “his friends in the inner bar.”
She referred to Armour’s disqualification from the almost two-decade-old Piarco Airport corruption case in a Miami court, being the reason for the no-confidence motion filed by some lawyers against him.
UNC chairman Dave Tancoo supported Persad-Bissessar’s position.
“I find it ironic that the Executive of the Law Association has found a voice now.”