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Soldiers raid relatives home in Couva

Published: 
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
A masked soldier stands guard outside the home of Pamela Lee during a search of her home in Couva yesterday.

About 20 heavily armed soliders went to the Couva home of Dillon “Bandy” Skeete’s relatives yesterday in three military jeeps, demanding that his relatives give him up. One of the jeeps carried the licence plate 5TTR196. Skeete’s aunt, Pamela Lee, said around 6 am her mother ran into her kitchen saying the house was surrounded by soldiers. 

 

She said there were four people in the house, including a four-year-old. Lee said she then called her lawyer, who called the police. “I was terrified. The soldiers were all around the house and they were taking pictures of the house. “The place was scary and it was very embarrassing for me because I live in a residential area and these things don’t happen to me. The soldiers said ‘I am not the police, I will deal with him (Skeete) different,’” Lee said. 

 

She said other soldiers told her they were doing a check in the area. “My husband was on his way to work and the soldiers stopped the van and searched it and then they let him go. The police told me they were doing a check but they did not tell us what they were checking for or who they were looking for,” Lee said. Another soldier, who only identified himself as “Robbie”, she added, urged her to surrender Skeete and suggested they meet alone at a location in Couva. She said she told him she preferred that Skeete surrender to the police but he insisted Skeete should give himself up to the soldiers. Contacted yesterday, civil military affairs officer of the  Defence Force Major Al Alexander only confirmed there was a joint police and military operation in Couva.

 

We warned this would happen—police association

 

Secretary of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Insp Michael Seales said an incident like that was bound to happen and for far too long some soldiers had been acting outside their stipulated duties. He pointed out: “We have been warning about this for a while. Soldiers have no investigative powers. ”It is wrong. The association frowns on that type of behaviour and we will do everything in our power to grind this to a halt until there is some semblance of balance. “Police are the only ones with investigative powers. If the Defence Force wants to continue with this behaviour—and we are sending this message to the Chief of Defence Staff also—that if they want to travel down this road, it will destroy the democracy and break down every institution that has been constitutionally established. “The police commissioner must come clean and say what is the next instruction he must give police.” 

 

When contacted National Security Minister Gary Griffith said soldiers had not been given extra powers and warned that any soldier caught breaking the law would face the full brunt of the law.
He said: “Soldiers have not been given any extra powers. They are allowed to patrol and the soldiers have been doing a very good job in Laventille and in the other hot spot areas where they have been patrolling. I cannot please everyone and I am not here to please everyone. “But all the soldiers cannot be painted with a broad brush because of the irresponsible actions of a few,” Griffith said. He said he would ensure that nothing was swept under the carpet, adding that he was not afraid to stick his head out to ensure justice was served for all.

 

No extra powers for soldiers—Gary

When contacted National Security Minister Gary Griffith said soldiers had not been given extra powers and warned that any soldier caught breaking the law would face the full brunt of the law.
He said: “Soldiers have not been given any extra powers. They are allowed to patrol and the soldiers have been doing a very good job in Laventille and in the other hot spot areas where they have been patrolling. I cannot please everyone and I am not here to please everyone. “But all the soldiers cannot be painted with a broad brush because of the irresponsible actions of a few,” Griffith said. He said he would ensure that nothing was swept under the carpet, adding that he was not afraid to stick his head out to ensure justice was served for all.