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Landlord breaks silence on Flying Squad base
Businessman Richard Koorn, the owner of the premises where the New Flying Squad Investigations Unit (NFSIU) operated secretly for four months, has broken his silence. Koorn, in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Guardian on Friday, confirmed the NFSIU had been up and running from his premises at Factory Road, Golden Grove, Arouca, but was recently shut down because of lack of funding.
Koorn spoke to the Sunday Guardian in an office he said was used by retired police inspector Mervyn Cordner, who has repeatedly claimed Minister of National Security Jack Warner recalled him to head the unit. Warner has denied any knowledge of the new unit. Lying on the desk, covered in dust, were some file pages bearing the names of three people. The date October 1 was written at the top of one of the pages.
The names can also be found on the employee listing that was forwarded to the Sunday Guardian, along with several other documents and e-mails all pointing to the existence of the NFSIU. “This is where it all started,” Koorn quipped as he sat in a chair crossing his legs. He recalled several meetings being held on his premises, where he runs Donrich Security Kennels Ltd.
The NFSIU offices were on the same compound from September to January, after relocating from a building at Henry Street, Port-of-Spain. Koorn also remembered being privy to several discussions with members of the NFSIU that surrounded investigations, in particular the murder of Yang Jiang Hua and Wu Xia Hua, who were shot dead last July at their family's home and business place, Tiger’s Chinese Restaurant, in Cunupia.
Cordner has claimed the NFSIU was instrumental in helping the police to solve six murders. While acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Stephen Williams has dismissed Cordner's claims to have helped the police homicide bureau, what Cordner said is corroborated by Koorn.
Flying Squad owes $800,000 in rent
Koorn says an agreement for the NFSIU to rent one of his buildings was drawn up in September and sent to the director of the National Security Operations Centre, Garvin Heerah. However, Koorn is yet to be paid rent for the four months that the NFSIU occupied his premises. Internal e-mails at the Ministry of National Security showed a base was being sought for the NFSIU in Aranguez with the knowledge of Heerah.
However, the site was deemed unsuitable and the NFSIU was set up at Arouca instead. Last week Koorn was visited by two investigators inquiring about the operations of the NFSIU from his premises.
The lease agreement includes an arrangement for detainees to be kept at the offices. The issue of detainees being kept was only expected to go into effect when members of the new Flying Squad were brought into the police service as special reserve police (SRP) officers. The move would also have allowed members of the unit to be precepted.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Guardian showed Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson met with members of the NFSIU in October and recommended that they should become SRPs. Richardson has not denied his involvement with the NFSIU but offered no comment when contacted. Asked if he had received payment for the rental of the building, Koorn replied, “No. I am a very confidential person. I do not like the limelight.
“It is a reality. It has been said over and over that I was supposed to be receiving $200,000 per month for the rental of one of my buildings. It is public knowledge. “It would appear somebody acted beyond their portfolio and now the proverbial crap has hit the fan, everybody is backing out.”
Pay up or else
Koorn told the Sunday Guardian he is not perturbed over the outstanding payments owed to him. Why? "I am not worried. If I do not get my money at a reasonable time, then I will have to look at the court as an option for payment. “How did the fellas get the vehicles, and who are paying for them? Did they send a thief to hijack people and bring those vehicles on my compound and left them here for all those months?
“If my business is to rent vehicles, do I lend eight vehicles just like that?” Miscellaneous Marketing Ltd, a company that leases unmarked vehicles to the T&T Police Service, leased the eight vehicles to the NFSIU after Heerah gave the go-ahead. The directors are Sham and Rachel Mohammed of Temple Street, Duncan Village, San Fernando.
The NSOC falls under the purview of the Ministry of National Security. “There was action, they were performing,” said Koorn. “All I have to say is that I do not have to pay for a lawyer—my sister is one.”
Who is to blame?
Reliable sources told Sunday Guardian that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is head of the National Security Council is “very concerned” over the latest revelations. Persad-Bissessar has requested a report from Warner on the matter. In June last year, Persad-Bissessar said she was leaving it up to Warner to decide if he wanted to bring back a unit fashioned after the infamous Flying Squad.
Warner has requested a report from Heerah. Heerah was expected back in the country yesterday, but could not be reached for comment In the past, covert operations such as the Strategic Intelligence Agency, Strategic Service Agency and the Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (SAUTT) all functioned under the Ministry of National Security.
However, the setting up of such a unit must be sanctioned by the CoP. Head of the Police Complaints Authority Gillian Lucky on Friday met with Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC, and Williams to discuss the matter. Williams recently announced that an investigation into the new Flying Squad was taking place.
The squad was first formed in the 1970s but was disbanded in 1980 after former police commissioner Randolph Burroughs was charged with conspiracy to murder. Warner hinted at the possibility of bringing back a “sanitised version” of the squad last year, but did not give a time frame.
The NFSIU’s lease
Koorn says the terms and conditions of the agreement are:
• Rental property to be shared with Donrich Security Kennels Ltd
• Exclusive use of certain areas, including separate facilities to house male and female detainees
• Rent of $200,000 a month
• Contract for two years with option to renew.
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