Kamla Persad-Bissessar's SUV was being analysed for fingerprints last night, after it featured in a dramatic mid-afternoon gun crime. One week after a $5 million "hit" was allegedly taken out on the life of the prime ministerial candidate, her 31-year-old niece Lisa Harry and driver Denzil Dookeran were yesterday robbed at gunpoint. The gunmen drove off with Persad-Bissessar's luxury Toyota Prado. Police discovered the vehicle hours later in some bushes off the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway.
At a news conference yesterday, acting Police Commissioner James Philbert said the police had no evidence to suggest that the robbery was politically motivated. The drama unfolded at around 2.30 pm outside Tunapuna Hindu School, shortly after the duo left a function at the Centre of Excellence at Macoya. The gunmen emerged from a silver Almera car and announced a hold-up. Two men drove off with Persad-Bissessar's vehicle, while the third sped off in the Almera. Dookeran and Harry were left stranded along the highway. They were unharmed. Eventually, they secured a phone call and told a political colleague of the vehicle's hijacking.
The police said, however, that Harry was traumatised. Hours later, Persad-Bissessar at first declined to draw a political link to the crime. "I do not have the facts... I am not jumping to any conclusions," she told the T&T Guardian. In a subsequent statement, Persad-Bissessar took a tougher tone, saying the crime was linked to "the sad state of affairs," in which "no one... can take their personal safety and that of their family for granted." She accused Prime Minister Patrick Manning of "a flippant manner" toward crime by describing it as "collateral damage." She slammed Manning, saying he "displays such scant regard for what has become a national crisis." The statement confirmed that "new security measures" to protect Persad-Bissessar would be taken in light of yesterday's crime. Manning had dismissed last week's reports of death threats against Persad-Bissessar as a "hoax."