Driving east on Friday afternoon to El Dorado, the traffic jam extended from the lighthouse, that falling symbol of Port-of-Spain superiority, into the first traffic light near Valsayn.
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Witness ignored death threats ‘Don’t go to court’
A bloody jersey, a pair of shoes and a bicycle were all that remained of Ricaldo “DJ Pappy” Sánchez, the State’s main witness in the 2010 murder of Kwasi “President” Chakumba-Muraldo, after he went missing yesterday morning. Sánchez, 51, of Mitchell Street, Los Charos, Palo Seco, was due to testify today in the Siparia Magistrates Court against fellow villager Fermin Carrabai, who is accused of murdering 30-year-old Chakumba-Muraldo on December 28, 2010.
Relatives and police now fear the worst as they said Sánchez, a part-time electrician at Petrotrin, Santa Flora, received constant death threats since witnessing the murder near Los Charos junction. “This was in the making... Since he saw that man got murdered, they kept threatening him, telling him not to come to court,” a relative said yesterday. “He made reports to the police but what could they do. I believe he had an idea who was threatening him but he was still going give evidence in court. He had already given the police a statement.”
Police reports said the father of four left home around 10 pm Saturday to play music at Station 22 Bar at Los Charos junction. After the bar was closed, he went to a party next door but that was the last time anyone saw him. Relatives became worried after he did not return home and it was only around 9 am yesterday, when his wife Mahalia Floyd went in search of him, she found his clothes and bicycle near the junction.
Police said they searched medical institutions around south Trinidad, checked the forested areas around his home and even got Petrotrin workers to bail a pond in the area, but up to late yesterday, he was yet to be found. Villagers who attended the house party where he was last seen said they did not see him fighting with anyone nor did they see him leave. Relatives described him as a gentle, respectable and friendly person who, instead of fighting, would be a peacemaker.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2010 after Chakumba-Muraldo killing, Sánchez said that around 9 pm, the victim and several other workers of Quality Environmental Services were waiting for transportation to go into a forested area at Erin where seismic surveys for oil and gas were taking place. He said they were standing on the roadside when Chakumba-Muraldo and a suspect got into an argument, during which Chakumba-Muraldo was shot.
After eluding police for six days, the suspect, accompanied by his attorney Dexter Bailey, surrendered to acting Sgt Salick Jagroop of Santa Flora Police Station.