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3 suspects free for now

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Student makes complaint against kidnap victim
Keston Mahabir

Three suspects detained in connection with the abduction of school teacher Keston Mahabir have been released by police. 

The suspects—a 27-year-old man, his 23-year-old girlfriend and his mother—were released from the Anti-Kidnapping Squad’s office in Couva yesterday morning, as their attorneys, Criston J Williams and Alexia Romero, were in the process of filing a habeas corpus lawsuit in the Port-of-Spain High Court challenging the police to justify their continued detention without being charged. 

The family members, who are related to a reputed gang leader who is currently on remand on charges of kidnapping and murdering a woman in 2006, were detained by police hours after Mahabir was abducted. 

Police sources close to the investigation said yesterday that after the family members were arrested, their 15-year-old relative, a pupil of Mahabir’s school, went to police on Friday and made a criminal complaint against Mahabir over an alleged incident which was said to have occurred at the school several weeks ago. The teenager reportedly went to the Central Police Station on Sunday and gave a further statement, in which she sought to clarify information she initially provided to police. 

Investigators yesterday confirmed that they were in the process of verifying the teen’s allegations, but refused to say whether it was the main lead they were considering in Mahabir’s abduction. 

“The suspects may be rearrested once more information comes to light,” a police source, who noted that the investigation was at a “critical” stage, said. 

Mahabir, head of Keston’s Educational Institute of Pitiman Trace, Mc Bean Village, Couva, was abducted from his home last Wednesday. CCTV footage shown exclusively on CNC3’s Crime Watch programme, last Thursday, showed that at about 11.50 am two women parked a silver vehicle near Mahabir’s house. Mahabir, who was wearing a red T-shirt, met the women and escorted them to the back of the house, where he conducts his classes. Two minutes later, two men were seen entering the compound and the room where Mahabir and the women were. One of the men wore a bandana covering his face while the other wore a hoodie.

A few minutes later, one of the men came out of the house and walked to the front. Seconds later a second man was seen coming outside holding Mahabir around the neck and walking him to the front of the house. 

Mahabir, a graduate of the University of T&T (UTT), has spent the last five years teaching Mathematics, English, and Human and Social Biology at his private school, which has 73 pupils. He was expected to take up a teaching position at the University of the West Indies in September.

Speaking with reporters after his kidnapping, Mahabir’s fiancee, Shereeza Mohammed, and his family said they believed that it was a case of mistaken identity. 

“I just want to know that he is returned to us. I want him back home. I miss him and I am worried that he will never come back,” Mohammed said, noting he had studied engineering at UTT but had spent most of his adult life teaching classes because he loved teaching. 

One of his students, Jeremy Antoine, said he had four-hour classes which were fun and informative.

“Everyone wanted to be enrolled in this school. It was competition because his classes were exciting. He loved to make jokes and he always had a drive to make sure that every student did well,” Antoine said. 

Anyone with information on Mahabir’s whereabouts can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.