Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 15th 2015 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt March 15, 2015
The lives of the five Trinida-
dians who are currently
detained in Venezuela s Sevin
Prison may now be at risk as
there are plans to have them
relocated to one of Venezuela s
main prisons, which is
described as one of the worst
in the world.
In the light of this new devel-
opment, their relatives are again
making a desperate plea to the
T&T Government to urgently
intervene and have the nationals
returned safely to their respective
The five men---Wade Charles,
Dominic Pitilal, Asim Luqman,
Andre Battersby and Leslie Dais-
ley---were arrested on terrorism
charges on March 19, 2014, after
the Venezuelan intelligence
agency raided their hotel rooms.
Speaking to the Sunday
Guardian, head of the Waajihatul
Islaamiyyah (The Islamic Front),
Umar Abdullah, said he received
information on Thursday night
from Venezuelan authorities that
officials from the Venezuelan
government visited the Sevin
Prison and announced the relo-
cation of prisoners to a main
"I was told this came about
because of the announcement
made by the President of the
United States, Barack Obama. It
is suspected that the US may
move in on Venezuela and may
attempt to free political prisoners
held captive there," Abdullah said.
"The prisoners are now fearful
for their lives because if they are
moved to the main prison they
will be put under a lot of pressure
because the prisons are crowded
and there are terrible prisoners
there. Also, they won t be able
to get their special Halaal food
that we are currently providing
for them at Sevin. So, what will
they eat? Their families are plead-
ing in desperation now to the
T&T Government to move in,"
On February 24, 2015,
Venezuela President Nicholas
Maduro came to T&T for the
signing of a new agreement on
His arrival was met with
protest by Venezuelan nationals
residing in T&T who were calling
for him to step down from gov-
Also, protesting were members
of the Islamic Front led by Abdul-
lah. Abdullah and four others
placarded outside the Diplomatic
Centre in St. Ann s for the release
of the five Trinidadians.
While in T&T, Maduro and
T&T s Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar discussed the
situation with Persad-Bissessar
making a public announcement
that further talks between the
governments would resume on
the matter. However, that meet-
ing is yet to take place.
On March 27, 2014, a delega-
tion of officials, headed by Rear
Admiral Richard Kelshall (national
security adviser to the Prime
Minister of T&T), left Trinidad
on a fact-finding mission.
According to Abdullah, during
the one-day visit Kelshall made
several statements against three
of the nationals arrested, in sup-
port of his informal statements
to the defence attaché of
Venezuela in Trinidad a few days
On March 9, 2015, according
to Reuters, the US declared
Venezuela a national security
threat and ordered sanctions
against seven officials from the
oil-rich country in the worst
bilateral diplomatic dispute since
socialist Maduro took office in
Maduro said he may travel to
Washington to challenge Obama.
Paramaribo, Suriname---A senior
government official here says
the election campaign run by
the ruling coalition is not likely
to be affected by the recent con-
viction of the son of president
Desi Bouterse for terrorism, nar-
cotics and firearms offences in
a US court.
The country goes to the polls
on May 25 and Home Affairs
minister Edmund Leilis told T&T
Guardian in an exclusive interview
the court judgment against 42-
year-old Dino Bouterse earlier
this month "will not have an
impact on the elections."
The minister revealed that
president Bouterse will soon
deliver an address to the country
on his feelings about the devel-
Opposition parties here have,
however, already gone on the hus-
tings on the issue with wide-
ranging claims against the pres-
ident himself, though the issue
does not feature prominently in
the media during heavy cam-
paigning for the elections.
In a case involving work by the
Port-of-Spain operations of the
US Drug Enforcement Agency,
Dino was sentenced to more than
16 years in prison for allowing
"large numbers of purported
Hezbollah operatives to use Suri-
name as a permanent base for,
among other things, attacks on
American targets," according to
a release from the Southern Dis-
trict of the New York Court.
Bouterse s alleged accomplice,
Edmund Quincy Muntslag, was
arrested at Trincity Mall in T&T
on August 28, 2013, one day
before Dino was himself nabbed
in Panama while travelling on a
diplomatic passport. Muntslag is
currently in custody in T&T
fighting extradition to the US on
An indictment filed in the
Manhattan federal court, with
supporting documents, claimed
that in 2013, Bouterse "used his
position within the government
of Suriname to assist individuals
he believed were members of
Hezbollah" to provide passports
and other support to members
of the militant group categorised
by the US and other countries as
a "terrorist organisation."
It was also alleged that in June
2013, Bouterse and Muntslag, met
in Suriname with "confidential
sources ...working with the Drug
Enforcement Administration ...
to discuss importing cocaine into
the United States using commer-
cial airline flights.
President Bouterse has been at
the helm of a ruling coalition since
2010. He previously ran the coun-
try under military rule between
1980 and 1987 following a coup
d etat. There is a pending 11-year
prison sentence against him in
the Netherlands based on a 2000
drug trafficking conviction. The
trial was held in his absence and
he has persistently protested the
Campaigning for the elections
has been picking up steam with
giant billboards strategically placed
around the capital city of Para-
maribo highlighting the achieve-
ments of a government that "has
been working", according to the
main campaign slogan.
The amendment to the Bail Act is an attempt
to "institutionalise a state of emergency."
So said Independent Liberal Party leader Jack
Warner on Friday as he contributed to the debate
on the amendment in the House of Representatives.
Warner, in his contribution to the debate, declared
that the provisions of the amendment "cannot be
right" and he would not support such a "draconian"
piece of legislation.
He accused the Government of "cherry-picking"
in their approach to the fight against crime.
The bill, he said, "Tells me that nothing seriously
has been done or is being contemplated to fix the
administration of justice at this time. What are we
doing about the logjams in the court so we could
have timely convictions?"
The Bail (Amendment) Bill 2015 seeks to prevent
the granting of bail for certain criminal offences
such as the use or possession of firearms. The bill
requires a special three-fifths majority for passage.
This, Warner said, was a clear infringement of
a citizen s civil liberty and he could not support
that kind of approach to crime fighting.
"We could have had a wholistic approach, but
no cherry picking. We are cherry picking because
this is good for the public eye to say that we are
fighting crime. I cannot support that, because any-
thing that denies civil liberty denies me my life and
what I do not like for myself I do not like for others,"
In fact, the Chaguanas West MP contended, "All
this bill is doing is institutionalising the state of
emergency, that is all it is doing. You are now putting
the same boys behind bars, and then you will say
little black boy go to school and learn."
Warner reminded the House that a person is pre-
sumed innocent until proven guilty.
However, he said, "This bill is a denial of that."
The bill had been introduced by former attorney
general Anand Ramlogan.
On Friday, Attorney General Garvin Nicholas
piloted the bill, which was originally laid in Par-
liament by Ramlogan.
Nicholas defended the bill, saying it was not too
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, who
also contributed to the debate, said, the bill was
necessary in the fight against crime.
Opposition MPs Terrence Deyalsingh and Dr
Amery Brown suggested that the amendments did
not reflect a real attempt to address the crime sit-
uation in T&T.
Brown, MP for Diego Martin Central, said the
People s Partnership is a "bandage" Government
that is known for making "lofty promises."
"Government has not been able to address the
root of crime in T&T. This (bill) is not going to
meet (those) criteria," he contended.
The debate will resume on March 20.
Remember to keep your Saturday, Sunday and
Monday papers and tune into Crime Watch
tomorrow on CNC3 from 6 pm for the draw.
If the number matches the bunny on the back of any
of those Guardian papers, you have won Monday's
The number drawn Friday on Crime Watch was
717481. If the number on the bunny at the back of your
Friday's Guardian was 717481, you have won $3,500
You have until 3 pm tomorrow to come to the
Guardian office, 22-24 St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain,
with the newspaper containing the winning number
and photo identification.
5 Trinis in Venezuela fear
being sent to 'horror prison'
Easter Bunny Promotion
---Prize at $3,500
US conviction features in
Suriname election campaign
Rhianna Croney and her teammate compete in the novelty
game "toss the sponge" during the Church of the Nazarene's
annual sports and family day at the Woodbrook Youth
facility yesterday. PHOTO: JENSEN LA VENDE
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