Dancing With Mr. D

If you ever need an example of naked political power, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than the pages of the Trinidad Express on the day of Jack Warner's recent overwhelming electoral victory. Warner took out a full page ad that was so utterly nauseating and devoid of truth that, even by the (admittedly low) standards of modern politics, it challenged the strongest of stomachs.

That same day The Express refused to print an ad submitted by the group of 13 T&T World Cup players who are suing Warner and the T&TFF for the money they are owed from 2006.

The Editors of The Express told the players that their ad was not "factual" and thus did not meet their standards. This despite the fact that six different courts, on two continents, have ruled in their favor.

Yet even that example pales in comparison with the one that played out in a courtroom in T&T yesterday.

You'll recall that back in February, faced with the reluctance of the T&TFF to take legal action against Warner for his theft of the money and his refusal to turn over the financial records of the 2006 sponsorship deals, Port of Spain High Court Justice Devindra Rampersad gave T&TFF General Secretary Richard Groden a choice:

Initiate legal action against Warner or go to jail.

Groden promised to file suit, and also agreed to hire a new lawyer since the guy who had been representing him, one Om Lolla, is also Jack Warner's personal attorney.

The new guy, Derek Ali, said he'd take the federation on as a client but that he was very busy and wouldn't have time to pursue any action until early April, and the judge agreed.

So yesterday everybody - well, except Warner, who has yet to face any judge on this matter - appeared in Justice Rampersad's courtroom, with the latter anxious to hear what progress had been made on bringing action against Warner.

Ali's response? Well, we don't know exactly because he first asked the judge to clear the media from the room, which was done.

What we do know though - the players in attendance, including Shaka Hislop, were quite forthcoming - is that Ali told the judge they had done nothing at all and, what was more, they had no plans to do anything in the future because Warner was threatening a counter suit for - well, no one knew how much or what the grounds might be, but it would be really really bad and the federation didn't have that much, whatever it was.

The problem, Ali told the court, is that he doesn't have enough confidence in himself to defend such a big case because he might lose. No, really.

Now at this point you might expect me to tell you about how the Judge freaked out and started having people hauled off to jail. And you'd be wrong.

Not that he did nothing at all. Oh no.

Well, OK, pretty much.

He told everybody to come back in 30 days prepared to argue the question of whether poor Richard Groden should go to jail for contempt.

He also ordered that the players be allowed to have an independent auditor conduct a forensic audit of the T&TFF, despite the fact that everyone has already acknowledged that Warner has all the pertinent records under lock and key.

Lost in all of the confusion are the simple facts that everyone knows:

A) Jack Warner stole the money and is in defiance of at least three court orders to hand it over

B) Jack Warner has refused several court orders to hand over the records which show how much money there was and where it went

So to remedy the situation, they're going to - sooner or later - toss Richard Groden into jail for contempt and have an accountant look through some filing cabinets which don't contain any useable information.

Meanwhile, it's been three weeks since Warner sent FIFA a couple truckloads of paperwork which he says proves that he gave Haiti $900,000 in relief money. FIFA says they are still looking through it all, but nobody - literally nobody - believes they're going to find anything at all.

Eventually - I'd guess June or July at the earliest - FIFA will issue a statement saying that they found no proof of any payment (the reason being that, as has already been established, no payment was actually made) and once again demand that Jack pay up.

As for Jack, he won a smashing, overwhelming victory in his party balloting, meaning that there will be no criminal investigation of his role in smuggling US$2,00,000 into the country illegally. To date, not one witness has been questioned, not one document requested and not one investigator assigned.

Somewhere, Uncle Jack is surely laughing his ass off.