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After searches and ‘arrests’ Laventille residents claim soldier abuse
Two weeks after the murder of Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas and the start of regular soldier patrols in Laventille and environs, residents of Mc Kai Lands, Belmont and Leu Place Laventille are coming forward with claims that they were abused by soldiers on patrol. Thomas was shot dead on June 29 while on his way to his mother’s Beverly Hills, Laventille home.
In an interview yesterday, Laventille resident Akim O’Neil claimed he was beaten by soldiers last Wednesday morning after they “arrested” him and two others before being handed over to the Morvant Police Station where, he said, he was again beaten. O’Neil, 25, said he was beaten behind the legs and in the face and as a result suffered injuries to the eardrum, for which he is still seeking medical treatment.
His older brother warned that if the continuous harassment does not end or a full investigation is not launched then they will take the matters into their own hands. He called on the “ghetto communities” to unite against the oppression of the protective services. In a separate incident, also in Laventille, Carlos Lee recounted being awoken on Saturday morning by soldiers in masks searching for those responsible for the death of Thomas.
Lee said about 30 officers surrounded the home demanding to know the whereabouts of one of his male relatives. After being told that he was not at home the soldiers broke in and ransacked the house, destroying a door in the process. The soldiers are alleged to have stolen jewelery and cash as the owners returned to find the valuables missing.
Both Lee and O’Neil claim they have no problem with the army doing its job but contend that the manner in which they are doing it is borderline illegal. Lee said Thomas’ true killers are tricking soldiers into believing that a relative of his is responsible. Police have denied the allegations brought against them by O’Neil. Contacted about the allegation brought against the soldiers, public affairs officer of the T&T Regiment, Capt Stefan Affonso, declined to comment.
The allegations come on the heels of those of residents of St Paul Street who days after the June 29 murder claimed that regiment officers unaccompanied by police were terrorising them.