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Friday, March 4, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prisons Commissioner Sterling Stewart
said yesterday he could not guarantee his
officers safety since the prison system,
and by extension the country, is being held
to ranson by gang leaders who could use
their cohorts both inside and outside the
prison system to target his colleagues.
He said in the case of some 15 officers
who were on a prisoner hit list was why
he could do little to protect his officers,
since there were prisoners (and one in par-
ticular who he did not name) with high
links in the criminal world who were able
to organise attacks against his colleagues.
"It has a high-risk inmate in our envi-
ronment and I can t guarantee the safety
of my officers. God is in control and he
don t like evil and this is evil going on," he
told the T&T Guardian in a telephone inter-
view yesterday in response to queries about
what measures were being put in place for
the other prison officers named on a reported
hit list of 15.
Prisons officer Fitzalbert Victor Jr, who
was killed outside his Laventille home on
Monday, was said to be on that hit list and
the other officers are now fearful for their
lives. Yesterday, Stewart said Victor, who
had survived two attempts on his life before
this week, could have made a request for
a transfer by his supervisor but noted that
because he was living in Laventille, which
is deemed a high risk area, he became a
target of gang members who had influence
in those communities.
"He was a target that was easily reached
and whatever happened inside (circum-
stances that led to his death) and these gang
leaders can call their people and they forward
the act on the officer," he said.
He added: "My officers are caught in the
middle where their lives are at risk and they
are sacrificing their lives for the reduction
of crime and we paying with our blood.
"It is a grave situation and unless certain
actions are changed... the leaders who calling
these shots are in our environment for too
long and I not seeing change happening."
When asked about the hit list itself, he
said: "Everybody under threat including
myself... they gunned down a commission-
er."Stewart was referring to Prisons Com-
missioner Michael Hercules, who was shot
dead at his home in Malick, Barataria, in
"We are under siege by these lawless
killers. The Prime Minister (Dr Keith Rowley)
talk about monsters and hypocrites rise up
but these are who we are dealing with."
He said, however, that for there to be a
resolution to their woes, the inmates and
circumstances had to change.
"Something has to be drastically done
and they (gangsters) continue to hold the
country and nothing is hardly being done
because they not changing," he said.
Contacted yesterday, Assistant Commis-
sioner of Police Carlton Alleyne confirmed
their investigations had so far revealed that
Victor s killing was possibly called from
behind prison walls.
"That is the information that I heard and
we are working with that and others. Several
people have also been questioned," he added.
Alleyne said, however, prisons officers
fearful for their lives could apply for a firearm
licence through the commissioner s office.
The Prisons Officers Association has
knocked Government for what it says is the
lack of response to calls for more measures
to ensure their safety.
Yesterday during a post Cabinet press
briefing at the Magdalena Grand in Tobago,
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the
Government would continue to do what it
could to address the situation.
In response to reports that some prison
guards were threatening to resign, he said,
"Now that the criminal element has turned
on them, so as to create the kind of fear
and the kinds of responses that you re talking
about walking off the job. What I will say
to prison officers is that the population
expects that you like every other citizen will
do your duty."
Guard on hit list fearful
One of the prisons officers on the hit list,
meanwhile, yesterday complained that his
cry for assistance in the midst of danger
In a brief interview, the officer (who did
not wish to be identified) said he was
approached by two different inmates who
told him of the plot.
He said the information, also since cor-
roborated by another inmate, revealed plans
to assassinate him, other officers and an
inmate who other prisoners believed was a
"If the prison has a mandate to do certain
things, why they not doing it?" the prisons
officer asked. "I am next on the list and
they never lifted a finger to help him (Victor).
Victor worked reception where they search
the inmates when they come in," he added.
He said the threats were evaluated by a
threat assessment team but complained that
they often did not do a proper job of that.
"Sometimes they don t really business
and if you stay away from work they locking
you up. They even keep putting the officers
back to work in hot spots in the prison," he
The officer said he had been keeping him-
self out of the limelight and his house locked
up since learning of the threat to his life.
He said something should be put in place
for the officers who were threatened by the
He added: "They should have a place just
for men to go in and apply and have a special
committee set up. They dragging their foot
too long. The process is no good and we
shouldn t be going through that. I should
not have to stand up and wait like other
He said there were other people on the
hit list which also included an inmate who
revealed to prison officers that there was a
plan by a group prisoners to break out the
Trinidadian Kashma Maharaj made headline
news all over the world yesterday, as the woman
who tried to go through an international airport
checkpoint with gun-themed shoes and two
bracelets lined with realistic-looking bullet fig-
Maharaj is a partner at Fashionista Trinidad,
owner-operator at kashmamaharaj.com and owner
at Supernova Sports Ltd. She is also a fitness
instructor and personal trainer.
According to international reports, Maharaj was
stopped at the Baltimore-Washington Thurgood
Marshall Airport on Saturday by Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) agents, after they
found the shoes and bracelets in her carry-on bag.
In a New York Post article, TSA spokeswoman
Lisa Farbstein tweeted: "Shoes and bracelets that
are less than ideal to wear or bring to a @TSA
checkpoint. These delayed a traveller at BWI."
Farbstein later told the Baltimore Sun that
Maharaj was ordered to put the items in her checked
luggage, but refused and chose to leave them with
the TSA because she was running late for her flight.
The report stated the stilettos Maharaj had in
her possession, described as a Bondgirl-701-3 Gun
Heel Platform Sandals, are made by exotic footwear
manufacturer Pleaser USA and are said to be one
of their most popular items.
"They look authentic, but the 7.5 inch gun-
barrel heels are plastic, and finished with a chrome
coating in order to make them look more realistic,"
according to Pleaser USA spokeswoman Elody
Romero was quoted as saying that in her nine
years at the company, she had never heard of an
incident where heels were confiscated.
"She brought them in her carry-on luggage?
That probably wasn t the smartest decision,"
Romero told the Baltimore Sun in a report.
Maharaj, who found the entire incident very
hilarious, subsequently posted links to the various
news articles on her Facebook page. On one post,
Maharaj said: "I normally drive or just check all
bags, but it was just a tiny overnight bag...can t
win...funny thing is I ended up checking the bag
cause of limited overhead space."
Efforts to reach Maharaj for further comment
'Evil' in prison system
A relative weeps over the casket bearing the body of murdered prison officer Fitzalbert
Victor Jr during a private viewing of the body at Belgroves' Funeral Home, Tacarigua,
yesterday. Victor's funeral service will take place today at the same venue. PHOTO: NICOLE
Stewart can't guarantee guards' safety...
The gun-shaped heels seized by TSA officials.
Trini's 'gun' heels
seized at airport
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