Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2016 Contents A5
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
National Security Minister
Edmund Dillon will travel to
Venezuela next Monday to discuss
the detention of five of T&T s cit-
izens who were arrested on suspi-
cion of terrorism charges.
This was one of the issues
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro,
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and
Dillon discussed yesterday during
bilateral talks between both countries
at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann s.
During a press conference with
Maduro, Rowley confirmed that they
had both agreed "to repatriate our
citizens who are currently in detention
on both sides."
It was news that the families of the
five detainees --- Wade Charles,
Dominic Pitilal, Asim Luqman, Andre
Battersby and Leslie Daisley --- have
been hoping to hear for months now.
The men were arrested on suspicion
of terrorism on March 19, 2014 after
the Venezuelan intelligence Agency
raided their hotel rooms in Caracas.
However, when Attorney General
Faris Al-Rawi was questioned yes-
terday about if the men would have
to face T&T s judicial system, which
would not be good news for their
families, Al-Rawi said one should not
be "so pessimistic."
"Let us get the facts first. The law
There is a judicial process to be fol-
lowed. We certainly intend to apply
transparency to the equation," Al-
In commenting on the matter, Al-
Rawi said the issue of Trinidadians
who had been held in detention in
Caracas was the subject of judicial
process in Caracas.
The AG said, however, that Maduro
was prepared to move quickly to have
the detainees sent back to Trinidad.
Al-Rawi said both leaders were
clear "to move with alacrity on the
"The issue of our citizens in Cara-
cas is going to be the subject of a
direct conversation on Monday when
the Minister of National Security goes
to Caracas to carry forward joint
enterprise between Venezuela and
Trinidad, specifically on our border
and crushing, as Maduro put it, the
issue of drugs and criminality," Al-
How T&T would treat with the
detainees upon their arrival to T&T,
Al-Rawi said, was a matter for his
office to manage in conjunction
with Dillon s ministry.
Insisting that a prisoner is innocent
until proven guilty, Al-Rawi said:
"These are allegations in a foreign
territory. The method for terrorism
is one which happens after conviction.
Our national security network is hard
"Suffice it to say, there is constant
monitoring right now to matters of
terrorism and any threat there. The
ones of immediate concern would be
the citizens on the allegations of ter-
rorism. That we respect is a process
to be followed there."
Al-Rawi said the People s National
Movement had been tracking the
detainees since they came into office.
He said that move would also reac-
tivate the joint mechanism between
the two countries.
"We have specifically tracked all
of the people at immigration and the
detention centre. There are a number
of Caricom and foreigners nationals
who have been held at the Immigra-
tion Detention Centre (IDC) for inor-
dinate periods," he said.
He said Dillon intended to clear
the IDC as quickly as possible since
it was untenable for some people.
Coming out of May 30 meeting,
Al- Rawi said they would know when
the men would be sent back.
There are 18 Venezuelans being
detained at Trinidad s IDC.
Families of the five T&T nationals
detained in Venezuela are keeping
their fingers crossed that National
Security Minister Edmund Dillon s
mission to Caracas next Monday will
result in the quick release of their
The five --- Wade Charles, Dominic
Jamal Pitilal, Asim Luqman, Andre
Bathersby and Lesley Daisley --- have
been detained in Venezuela since 2014
on suspicion of terrorism.
They were held at hotel Sabana
Grande along with a 22-member Mus-
lim group which had gone there to
apply for visas for pilgrimage to Mecca.
That group was later released but the
Trinis were detained and were to
appear in a Venezuela court up to yes-
Their families, represented by attor-
ney Nafeesa Mohammed, have been
lobbying for their release, saying the
men are innocent.
The families, as well as Mohammed,
were among people who demonstrated
yesterday near the Diplomatic Centre,
St Ann s, as Venezuelan President
Nicholas Maduro met Prime Minister
Dr Keith Rowley for talks.
After the talks ended, Attorney Gen-
eral Faris Al-Rawi said Government
had made significant steps on the issue
concerning them, as well as on the
two countries national security archi-
The AG said Government, at the
talks, indicated it would be pleased to
have special discussions concerning
the release of "our citizens through
the appropriate judicial and national
He said Maduro also indicated he
would be pleased to deal with that
matter and it was to be specially tabled
at a meeting which the National Secu-
rity Ministers of T&T (Dillon) and
Venezuela would have on Monday in
Al-Rawi said the detainees would
be one of several matters to be dis-
cussed as Government received a
solemn and very encouraging com-
mitment from Maduro to work with
T&T "for the mutual benefit of both
states in a co-ordinated intelligence
driven joint attack against criminal-
ity."Asked how positive the situation
was for quick resolution on the
detainees, Al-Rawi said: "That the
National Security Minister will be on
a plane to Caracas is an indication of
the immediacy with which both our
states will engage in matters of mutual
interest in national security."
A security source told T&T Guardian
yesterday the situation concerning the
five was "extremely" promising "but
we must follow correct processes."
Yesterday s statement raised hope
among the families.
Attorney Mohammed said: "This
news from yesterday s TT-Venezuela
talks have given us all and the families
tremendous hope this matter will be
resolved and the men will be reunited
with their families.
"We know it s not a done deal but
what has come across is a door has
been opened now. The fact that this
matter was discussed at such a high
level meeting is an accomplishment.
"I want to thank every single person
involved, the leaders, all officials who
have worked on it and, particularly
Prime Minister Keith Rowley, National
Security Minister Dillon and Foreign
Affairs Minister Dennis Moses for
making such a powerful statement."
She added: "We know there are still
some processes to be observed but my
prayer, since Ramadan starts in the
next two weeks, is that these families
can be reunited in that sacred time.
I thank God for enabling the families
to withstand this trial."
Islamic Front leader Umar Abdullah
added: "We can only hope they will
be released in a timely fashion without
delay. All of the labour on this effort,
from day one, right up to yesterday s
situation with the police (blocking
groups from seeing Maduro) has been
"National Security Minister
Edmund Dillon did say when I spoke
to him last weekend that he had been
having talks with his Venezuelan coun-
terpart on the matter."
Gloria Charles, mother of Wade
Charles, one of the five Trinidadians
who were detained in Venezuela
over two years ago on suspicion of
terrorism, is now threatening to go
to the whole world to expose the
real reason why her son and the
four others were arrested.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian
yesterday, Charles, on hearing news
that Venezuelan President Nicolas
Maduro had agreed to talks on free-
ing the five men, shouted: "Thank
However, when she was told it
was possible that the men, when
released from detention in Venezuela,
could return to T&T not as free men
but as prisoners to be incarcerated
here, Charles did not receive that
She accused the former People s
Partnership government of sending
erroneous information to Venezuela
initially when the men were arrested.
She also blamed the PP for the men s
detention for such a long time.
Charles said it was unjust and
unfair and that the T&T and
Venezuelan Governments would have
to come better than that.
Initially, Charles explained that
she was of the opinion that Maduro
was going to apologise for keeping
her son and the four others detained,
as they were never charged for ter-
rorism and were only being detained
on suspicion of terrorism. As such,
she said they expected the men to
be released to return to their fam-
She added: "If this is not the case
it is very unfair. Something does not
sound right. My son is innocent.
They all were going to perform Hajj
"If this is the case and they will
be locked up here, I am going to the
whole world and show them every-
thing. I really thought Maduro was
coming here to make amends."
Charles said her son was the
breadwinner of the household and
up to yesterday she did not have suf-
ficient funds to send her ten grand-
children to school.
"Maybe the T&T Government not
doing enough to have the men walk
free," Charles said.
Dominic Pitilal s wife, Sadiqa, said
the T&T Government should disclose
the entire truth to the public.
"They cannot be just leading us
one way and throwing us into the
same mess," Sadiqa said.
She questioned if the men were
going to be jailed in T&T with what
they would be charged.
"They never did anything wrong
in Venezuela and are not facing any
charges, so why, if they are brought
here, they will be locked up? What
crime did they do here?" she added.
The five men --- Wade Charles,
Dominic Pitilal, Asim Luqman,
Andre Battersby and Leslie Daisley
--- were arrested on terrorism charges
on March 19, 2014 after the Venezue-
lan intelligence agency raided their
Families buoyed by talks, hope for Ramadan reuniting
Maduro keen to free detained Trini Muslims
Dillon to start talks Monday
Relatives of the five T&T nationals detained in Venezuela become emotional outside the Diplomatic Centre, St
Ann's, as they call for their release during yesterday's meeting between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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