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9 detainees now free
The majority of the 13 people initially detained in relation to an alleged terrorist plot targeting recently concluded Carnival celebrations have now been released from police custody.
Police and legal sources yesterday confirmed that four more suspects who were arrested over the past ten days, were released from various police stations between Thursday night and yesterday afternoon, bringing the total number of detainees who were released without charge thus far to nine.
Two other suspects, a couple from San Juan, were released from custody but were charged for possession of a component of a firearm that was allegedly found at their home at the time of their arrests.
Tariq Mohammed and Fawaz Ali were both released on Wednesday night, while Clint Rivers, Kirsten Isa Mohammed and Edoo Mohammed were released on Thursday evening.
Mustapha Khan, from El Socorro, San Juan, was released around 1.30 am on Thursday, while an imam from Claxton Bay, who was only identified by sources as Yasin, was released an hour before.
Muhammad Salaam and Shaheed Rahim, an imam from Princes Town, were released from the Pinto Road Police Post and the Maraval Police Station almost simultaneously yesterday afternoon.
All the suspects had threatened to or filed habeas corpus writs before their eventual releases. The writs require police to bring a detainee before a High Court judge and justify their continued detention. The writ is usually used after a suspect spends more than three days in custody without being charged.
Adil Mansano and his wife, Alisha Thomas, were expected to appear separately in the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando High Courts for the hearing of their writs yesterday morning. However, when the cases were called State attorneys indicated that the couple had been charged by police and were taken to court earlier.
While the writs were withdrawn, the State was ordered to pay half of Mansano’s legal costs and 100 per cent of his wife’s legal bill as their attorneys, Wayne Sturge and Lemuel Murphy, argued that the writs had prompted investigators to lay the charge.
Mansano and Thomas appeared before Magistrate Rehanna Hosein in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court and were denied bail as their criminal record tracing was not available in time for the hearing. They are expected to reappear in court on March 16.
Legal sources close to the released detainees said they are now considering suing the State for false imprisonment.
“Clearly, they (the police) did not have any evidence. If they did, they could have applied to a court under the Anti-Terrorism Act to extend their detention after 72 hours had elapsed,” the source said.
Speaking at a tour of Port-of-Spain during Carnival celebrations on Tuesday, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon had confirmed that 13 persons had been held.
The T&T Guardian understands that at least six more arrests have been made since then.
Contacted yesterday evening and asked to confirm the total number of people arrested throughout the investigation and the number who remained in police custody up to late yesterday, T&T Police Service corporate communications manager Ellen Lewis said: “We do not have any additional information which we can share at this time.”
ABOUT THE PLOT
The plot to allegedly disrupt 2018 Carnival celebrations was first revealed by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) last Thursday, after a first batch of suspects were arrested at their homes in San Juan.
While members of the protective services were on alert for the threat during the long Carnival weekend, none materialised.
Since then, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams have each called press conferences to state that the threat was legitimate. However, they have not revealed details of the threat including its nature and the intended target or targets.
In fact, despite the fact that the majority of the suspects had been released over the past three days, PM Rowley reiterated the claim that the threat was legitimate in Parliament yesterday and further added that there was an ISIS cell operating her in T&T.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Dillon also denied reports that police received assistance from foreign agencies, including the United States (US) government.
During the 2011 state of emergency (SoE), almost a dozen Muslim men were held for an alleged plot to assassinate then prime minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar and key members of her Cabinet.
The men were held for an extended period under special detention powers granted during the SoE, but were eventually freed due to insufficient evidence against them.
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