“No member of the Defence Force or army has ever given me any information, any images or any pictures which I used in the Parliament. This is absolutely false,” he told reporters in the Parliament yesterday during Day One of the Standing Finance Committee, reviewing the allocations of the 2017 Budget.
To this end, Moonilal condemned Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s allegation that members of the Defence Force were responsible for the leak of the photos of the two teenagers, believed to be Attorney General Faris Al Rawi’s children, in the Parliament.
Dismissing the statements as “contemptuous,” Moonilal said Rowley had undermined the integrity and credibility of the Defence Force.
“He (Rowley) came to the Parliament without one shred of evidence and in one fell swoop, attacked the army for leaking information and no such thing has happened,” he said.
Moonilal claimed that the photographs originated from the Facebook page of a member of the Attorney General’s family.
“These photos, I am informed, were posted on a Facebook page sometime around October last year,” he said.
“The Facebook page was a member of the Al Rawi family.
It went up for one day in which several persons saw it and then it was removed swiftly. It was up one day and then removed the next day.” Moonilal said the photographs only came to his attention in February/ March.
“When I got it, I had to verify whether it was a picture in Trinidad, whether these were Trinidadians.
It took some time and some doing,” he said.
“It was only in the last few weeks that I verified persons with a resemblance to the Attorney General’s children and that it would have taken place at the Cumuto Army Base. So that this has nothing to do with the Defence Force.” Moonilal said he believed that the photographs were placed on Facebook “for kicks.” “The children were really posing with machine guns and so on,” he said.
Alluding to the Defence Force’s media release on the matter on Wednesday, Moonilal observed that the army did not confirm that the photographs were not taken during the training session.
“They cannot do that because it is illegal to place a firearm in the hands of a minor,” he said.
“Cumuto Barracks is not Guantanamo Bay. The laws of Trinidad andTobago apply at the Cumuto Barracks. The law is not suspended and the law is if you place a firearm in the hands of a minor, it is a breach. It is an offence. So, the army could not have done that.” Moonilal alleged that the children were “posing in the pictures.” “I don’t think they were doing any training or anything like and so this has serious consequences,” he said.
Moonilal reiterated that he had written to the Prime Minister and copied the letter to the Director of Publoic Prosecutions “and I am hoping the DPP will use his independent office to look at it and cause a police investigation into the matter because at first sight, it is a breach of the law.” The Opposition MP also noted the fact that it was the PM who identified the children as the offspring of the AG.
“To this moment, the AG in the public, has not identified these children. He will not do that because there is a legal consequence of doing that...”