Three members of the Sooknanan family and their relative were discharged from the San Fernando General Hospital on Sunday night. However, the head of the family unit, Aaron Sooknanan, remained warded under police guard at the hospital nursing injuries he sustained during their ordeal. Investigators said he was being kept in an area away from the general public as there may still be a threat to his life.
Sooknanan’s wife Paola Sanchez-Sooknanan, 26, their children Ricardo, five, Isabella, three and the mother’s cousin Roxanna Gonzales, 37, a Venezuelan national, were discharged and are staying at an undisclosed location. Investigators said the family was doing well, but they were very traumatised by the incident.
Sooknanan was severely beaten during their 33-hour ordeal after gunmen broke into their home at Jhulai Trace, Penal Rock Road, Penal, and adducted them.
The entire family was also treated for cuts and bruises as they were assaulted both in their home and in the forest where they were held hostage.
While a motive for the kidnapping was not given, police said they were told of a possible personal grievance.
On Saturday, hours after the kidnapping, Penal CID arrested two men from the area with a vehicle that was linked to the crime. Another suspect was held on Sunday night, but after hours of interrogation he was released.
Investigators are searching for three more suspects they believe abandoned the family in the forest as they got word the police were closing in on their location. Up to last evening, no further suspects had been arrested and the manhunt continued for the three additional suspects.
According to reports, the family was at their Jhulai Trace, Penal home on Saturday around 2 am when a group of men broke in and forced the family into a vehicle. Around 6.30 am a neighbour called Sooknanan’s mother Zalaca Sooknanan, saying they had not seen the family and felt something was wrong after screams were heard at the house. Zalaca reported the incident to police and when police checked the house, no one was at there and the home was ransacked.
In an operation coordinated by Snr Supt Neville Adams, a team comprising of Sgt Jaggernauth, Sgt Gokool, Cpl Bajhan, PC Khalil and WPC Mohammed located the vehicles involved in the abduction and arrested two suspects late Saturday.
As the officers worked into the night gathering intelligence and closing in on their location in the forest in Barrackpore, it is believed the kidnappers got word the police were close to their location in the forest in and bolted Sunday, leaving the family behind.
The Sooknanans subsequently trekked several hundred kilometres through the forest until they were found off Oropouche Road Trace, South Barrackpore by officers from the South Western Division Police and Special Operations Response Team.