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Man allegedly beaten by soldiers sues State

Published: 
Saturday, July 26, 2014

A 35-year-old man, who was left with a broken jaw after he was allegedly ambushed by two soldiers in east Port-of-Spain last week, has taken legal action against the State, seeking compensation for his injuries. Leon King, of Paradise Heights, Morvant, claimed he was attacked, beaten and robbed as he was about to visit his seven-year-old daughter at George Street, Port-of-Spain, last week Tuesday. In a pre-action protocol letter sent by his attorneys, King stated he intended to seek compensation for assault and battery. 

The letter from King’s lawyer, Varun Debideen, was sent last Friday to the Office of the Attorney General, which represents members of the protective services in their official capacity. It was also delivered on Wednesday to Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj. In the letter, which was obtained by the T&T Guardian, King is claiming that around 4.30 am he was about to enter the stairwell at his  former wife’s apartment building when he was confronted by soldiers patrolling the housing complex. 

He said when he told them the reason for his early-morning visit, they accused him of lying and told him to lie down on a flight of stairs. King said as he was about to comply, one of them struck him twice in the face with a gun. When he fell over, he said, the two soldiers began violently prodding his back with the barrels and butts of their assault rifles while searching his pockets.  He is also claiming that before they left, the soldiers took $225 which they had emptied from his pocket, leaving him with only his two cellphones.

King was warded at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital for most of last week and was discharged on Monday. The incident was one of several reports of abuse from residents of east Port-of-Spain since soldiers began patrolling their communities following the murder of their colleague Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas on June 29. A senior officer attached to the Military Investigations Unit, based at Regiment Headquarters, Knox Street, Port-of-Spain, confirmed they were investigating several cases of abuse.

In the letter, Debideen said he advised King to report the incident to police for a criminal probe to be launched. “An end must be found to this type of behaviour by officers,” Debideen said. He also asked the AG’s office to respond within seven days. No response had been received up to late yesterday.