Last update: 11-Dec-2013 3:14 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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If State fails to lay charges today... Detained 16 will walk
Sixteen suspects detained in an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three senior government ministers are set for freedom today unless the State makes a last-ditch effort to slap them with charges. And the window of opportunity is precariously closing in as the State only has mere hours to lay charges against the 16 detainees. Investigators are said to be considering charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act or charges of conspiracy to commit treason. The T&T Guardian, however, was reliably informed that all of the detainees had maintained their innocence throughout their interrogation by police, with some also denying knowledge of having previous dealings with their fellow detainees.
Apart from the plot to assassinate Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Housing and the Environment Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma, detention orders were served on those believed to have conspired to cause public disorder. Last Friday, at a news conference at the Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley branded the plot as a “hoax.” He claimed he was in possession of a report, dated November 23, which was produced by a law enforcement analyst which questioned the information provided by Government officials. The document claimed the order of events given by officials was inconsistent and that there was very little evidence linking the detainees to the plot.
Rowley was quoted as saying that the detainees were “now in serious jeopardy,” because the political directorate needed evidence to keep them incarcerated or charged, to keep it from serious allegations of misconduct in public office. The information on the alleged plot, which was scheduled to take place on November 24, was received by a police Special Branch officer, late in October by a confidential informant. Last week, detention orders under the Emergency Powers Regulations of 2011 were signed for the detainees by National Security Minister John Sandy. The detention orders will expire at midnight tonight, coinciding with the end of the state of emergency which was proclaimed more than three months ago, on August 21.
According to the orders, eight of the men have been identified as being involved in a plot to assassinate Persad-Bissessar and the ministers with the other being linked to a plot to destabilise T&T. The men who were previously being detained at the Golden Grove Prison, Arouca, were, over the weekend, transferred to the Eastern Detention, Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre, Santa Rosa, which was specifically constructed during the state of emergency to house detainees. Up to late yesterday, investigators were still seeking a businessman from central Trinidad who was allegedly involved in the importation of arms and ammunition which were to be used in the alleged plot.
Simultaneous searches at the man’s Curepe businessplace and Chase Village, Chaguanas, home, last week, resulted in the seizure of several firearms and a large quantity of ammunition, including a high-powered rifle and “armour-piercing” ammunition. The man is still “at large,” with a 24-year-old relative being detained by police in an effort to gather information as to the man’s location. The T&T Guardian, however, understands the man might have fled the country before the plot’s exposure more than two weeks ago.
Last week, two of the detainees— Ashmeed Choate, 56, an Islamic scholar of Princess Town, and Khalil Karamath, 23, the son of late contractor Hafeez Karamath, of Palm Road, Valsayn, both petitioned the High Court with habeas corpus writ applications. The applications sought to force authorities to justify their continued detention. Choate’s application which is before Justice Andre Des Vignes was adjourned to Tuesday while the judgment in Karamath’s application was reserved to a later date by Justice David Harris.
On Friday, lawyers representing both men, petitioned the Emergency Powers Special Tribunal seeking a review of the men’s detention orders. The tribunal, which was set up by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, in pursuance of the regulations and the Constitution, is chaired by Gilbert Peterson, SC, and includes Deborah Peake, SC, and attorney Rajmanlal Joseph. After hearing legal arguments presented on behalf of the State and the men’s legal teams, both matters were adjourned to dates in mid- December.
Yesterday, several attorneys who are representing the detainees said they expected their clients to be released immediately at the end of the state of emergency if no criminal charges were laid against them. The lawyers said that they did not expect any procedural or administrative problems which might force their clients to spend one extra minute in detention if they were not charged by the deadline. One attorney, who is representing two detainees, expressed fears that his clients might be rearrested if released tomorrow on a “falsified” charge.
• Selwyn Alexis, also known as “Robocop”, a businessman of Francois Street, Enterprise, Chaguanas.
• Yohann Cruickshank, also called “Wally”, of Mayers Lane, Chrissie Terrace, Longdenville, Chaguanas.
• David Millard, also known as “Buffy”, of 64, La Baja Road, Maracas, St Joseph.
• Andy Brown, also called “Sudan”, of Green and King Streets, Plymouth, Tobago.
• Police Sergeant Earl Elie, of Sampson Trace, off Cunupia Road, Cunupia. He was last assigned to the St Clair Police Station.
• William Taylor, also known as “Billy”, of Cumuto Main Road, Wallerfield, Cumuto.
• Bryan Barrington, also called “Soldier Barry”, of 20, Partap Trace, South Oropouche. Barrington is a former member of the Defence Force and was dishonourably discharged from the service.
• Khalil Karamath. of 30, Palm Road, Valsayn North, Valsayn. Karamath is the son of late contractor Hafeez Karamath.
• Shane Crawford, also called “Asadullah”, of 349 Dass Branch Trace, Enterprise.
• Milton Algernon, also called Fareed Mustapha, of 34 Hibiscus Arc Road, Rio Claro. Algernon is a member of the T&T Sheep and Goat Farmers’ Association.
• Chionesu Luqman, also called Asim Cuffie, and also called Salim Luqman, of Mon Repos, Upper Malick, Morvant, and of Thomas Trace, East Dry River, Port-of-Spain, and of St Margaret’s Lane, Belmont.
• Ashmeed Choate, of Craignish Road, Princes Town.
• Ashmeed Mohammed, of 21 Claude Street, La Romaine. Other addresses included Lightpole 64, Charles Street, La Romaine, and 353 Southern Main Road, La Romaine.
• Jason Brown, also called “Abdool Kareem”, of 10 William Trace, El Socorro Road, San Juan.
• Zaid Abdul Hamid, of corner Richard Lane and Aping Streets, Longdenville.
• Dominic Pitilal, also called “Jamal”, of 196 Western Main Road, Cocorite.
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