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Baksh makes presence felt

as Guardian, cops return to A&V Oil
Published: 
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
A&V Oil & Gas CEO Nazim Baksh, right, speaks to ASP Ruthven Hunte outside the company yesterday, after police and a Guardian team arrived to recount the details of Friday’s attack. PICTURE RISHI RAGOONATH

Guardian senior photographer Kristian de Silva yesterday returned to the A&V Oil and Gas Ltd compound with police, as the probe into the attack by two men on Friday continued.

Lead investigator ASP Ruthven Hunte led officers from the Professional Standards Bureau, along with De Silva and Guardian senior reporter Sascha Wilson, back the company’s 26-37 Nazim Avenue, San Francique compound.

As De Silva and Wilson recounted the story of Friday’s attack outside the company’s gates, Baksh, whose company yesterday issued an apology in relation to the attack and invited media to a tour of the company on Thursday, came out and walked towards them. With an intense look, he said, “Tell them the truth. Tell them you were on our property.”

He suggested that de Silva should show police the footage from his camera. However, De Silva’s camera is a DSLR that only shoots still photos. Baksh also told officers the security cameras at the guard booth were not working and that he was ready to give his statement.

The other suspect in the attack, a corporal attached to the Siparia Police Station, was yet to be interviewed by investigators. Baksh’s relation to the officer stems through his daughter, Government senator Allyson Baksh.

The Cyber Crime Unit also took pictures shot during the incident.

Police have confirmed they are yet to interview the two suspects involved in the incident.

De Silva, who was put on sick leave and prescribed a regiment of anxiety medication, admitted he was sceptical about Baksh’s apology. He said it was only a day ago that he had read another article where Baksh stated: “He lucky I didn’t bounce him (de Silva) down.”

In Baksh’s apology letter, he maintained that De Silva was on his property and that they “exercised strict legal rights when the incident occurred.” De Silva has maintained he was on the roadway when he was attacked by the two men, with one of them attempting to bounce him down while the other, apart from a physical assault, destroyed his camera and damaged his eye glasses.

Nazim Avenue is also neither barricaded nor has signage stating it is a private road. There are also more than 10 dwelling houses on the road. Although officials at the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation could not say whether the road was under their maintenance, a contractor said he had conducted road repairs there in 2009 under the Ministry of Works and Transport.

The attack on de Silva was just one of three incidents where journalists’ lives were at risk while covering the fake oil fiasco in which Petrotrin was billed close to TT$80 million for oil it did not receive from A&V. Last Wednesday, CCN TV6 cameraman Phil Britton escaped serious injuries but his car was damaged when glass bottles were hurled towards him while he was recording in the same spot that de Silva occupied last Friday.

Several media practitioners are calling for a boycott of Baksh’s invitation to tour the company on Thursday. Expressing dissatisfaction at the apology, they said they do not believe it is safe to visit the compound and asked that Baksh relocate his press conference to neutral grounds.