Two Port Authority of T&T (PATT) staff members have been suspended, while their computers seized for forensic analysis yesterday.
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Laventille man: I was also beaten
A visit to George Street, Port-of-Spain to see his six-year-old daughter turned tragic for a Laventille man who claimed to have been ambushed, beaten and robbed by two soldiers before he could complete his daily routine. The incident on Tuesday morning is the latest report of abuse from residents of east Port-of-Spain, since soldiers began patrolling their communities following the murder of their colleague Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas on June 29.
In an interview at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, in the presence of his lawyer Varun Debideen yesterday, 35-year-old Leon King, of Block 8, Laventille, recounted his ordeal with the two soldiers which left him with several injuries including a broken jaw. King said around 4.30 am he was about to enter the stair well at his ex-wife’s apartment building when he was confronted by the soldiers patrolling the housing complex.
“One tell me to lie down on the stairs and the one with the mask tell me empty my pockets,” King said. He claimed that as he was about to comply, one of them struck him twice on his face with a gun. He said when he fell over the two soldiers began violently prodding his back with the barrels and butts of their assault rifles while searching his pockets. “Thank God an old lady see and was bawling out for me. That is what make them leave me alone,” King said.
He said before they left, the soldiers took $225 which they had emptied from his pocket, leaving him with only his two cellphones. Barely able to walk, King stumbled to his car which was parked a short distance away and drove to the hospital for treatment. Asked if he was questioned over Thomas’s murder or in relation to Dillon “Bandy” Skeete—the Laventille resident who has been labelled a suspect in the murder by the Defence Force—King said no.
“I don’t know about Thomas and Bandy,” King said. Apart from the pain of his injuries, King said he was disappointed by the soldiers’ attack as he was one of the few east Port-of-Spain residents who supported the patrols in their communities. “Before with the police alone you would still hear gunshots ring out in the night. Now with the soldiers around that don’t happen again, so people could sleep in the night.
“But look what they do me. I can’t trust no soldier again,” an emotional King said while clutching the right side of his face as he grimaced in pain with each word. King’s incident occurred hours before two employees of the Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (Cepep) Ishmael Job and Brandon Granger claimed they were attacked by soldiers at a job site near their homes at Desperlie Crescent, Laventille.
King is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow to repair his jaw and is expected to lodge a formal report to both the police and the Defence Force after he recovers. Meanwhile, he has given instructions to his lawyer to initiate an assault and battery lawsuit against the soldiers. Contacted yesterday liaison officer for the T&T Regiment, Capt Stefan Affonso, said although the Defence Force were yet to receive an official report on the incident, it would still start an investigation into the incident.
“We are actively investigating all reports of abuse,” Affonso said.