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Defence Force apologises to journalists
Civil military affairs officer of the Defence Force Major Al Alexander has apologised to CNC3 reporter Samuel Mc Knight and cameraman Mano Ragbir for what they claimed were threats made against them by soldiers on Thursday. Alexander yesterday told the two he was sorry and that an officer had been assigned to investigate. The apology comes on the heels of another apology from National Security Minister Gary Griffith during a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian on Thursday. Griffith said he was concerned about the reports. Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams told the T&T Guardian in a brief telephone interview yesterday that he had spoken to the Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj about the complaints made against his men.
On Thursday, masked members of the Regiment, claiming to be members of a special operations unit, were at St Paul Street in east Port-of-Spain and were for the third straight day accused of beating residents. One masked officer is alleged to have pointed a loaded high-powered rifle at Mc Knight and told him if he were to record them he would be dealt with. There has been an influx of army officers in Laventille and the environs following the shooting death of Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas last Sunday while on his way to his mother’s house at Beverly Hills. Residents claim that they have been beaten on several occasions by the soldiers, who patrol unaccompanied by police. During a telephone interview with i95 FM yesterday, former attorney general Ramesh Maharaj, SC, said the actions of the soldiers were unlawful.
On Thursday, Griffith said around the world the rule regarding the murder of a member of the protective services was that if you touched one you touched all and the heavy presence of soldiers in the community was not irregular or isolated to Trinidad. He added that the law must do what was needed to suppress criminal activity and the patrols by soldiers without the assistance of police was not illegal. Thomas, 32, a father of eight was a serving member of the defence force for the past nine years. He will be buried on Monday after a funeral at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval, a media release from the Defence Force stated.