Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 16th 2014 Contents A5
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 16, 2014
JENSEN LA VENDE
Allegations of abuse by members of
the T&T Regiment continue. This time
two men from the Desperlie Crescent,
Laventille, area say soldiers physically
The men---Ishmael Job and Brandon
Granger---showed cuts and bruises they
say they suffered at the hands of soldiers.
Since the June 29 shooting death of
Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas, residents of
Laventille have claimed soldiers have been
patrolling the area without police and
have been engaging in illegal activities,
such as searching homes and "arresting"
An eyewitness said yesterday Job and
Granger, who both work with the Com-
munity-based Environmental Protection
and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP),
were accosted by the soldiers around 8
The very agitated man, who was
cheered on by others, said: "It was real
gunbutt, all in the men face. I was in a
yard, I walk outside and see the galvanise
shaking. I start to call people.
"Them wasn t talking, them was just
beating people. No mask, nothing and
the soldiers laughing. It had plenty of
them... seven or eight was beating the
man. They pull a man out of a car and
buss he head."
The man added that the soldiers also
shot at unarmed civilians.
People living at Desperlie Crescent
claim the soldiers were being paid with
alcohol and other inducements to assault
Asked to comment on the latest alle-
gations, public liaison officer for the reg-
iment, Capt Stefan Affonso, said the dif-
ficulty with addressing the claims was
that no formal complaint had been made.
He asked for the men and any others
who may have been abused by soldiers
to make a report either to the nearest
police station or the regiment.
The T&T Regiment has launched a full-
scale probe into reports that soldiers were
staking out the T&T Guardian building in
Port-of-Spain on Monday to capture, Dil-
lon "Bandy" Skeete, who soldiers report-
edly believe could help solve the murder
of Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas.
Two teams of investigators assigned to
the Military Investigations Unit, based at
regiment headquarters, Knox Street, Port-
of-Spain, visited the T&T Guardian yes-
terday to interview witnesses who saw and
spoke to a group of soldiers who were parked
outside the main entrance.
Two witnesses identified one of the sol-
diers, who appeared in a photo on the front
page of the July 4 T&T Guardian.
The head of the T&T Defence Force Inves-
tigations Unit, Sgt Hugh Thompson, and
Cpl Kerwin Peters came to the T&T
Guardian around 2 pm but Thompson made
it clear he was not allowed to make state-
ments on behalf of the regiment to the
The unit investigates allegations of mis-
conduct involving soldiers and takes the
necessary sanctions under milliary laws
which can include being discharged from
Four hours earlier Cpl Kevin Ratmdoo
and Private Maria Cooper, who are assigned
to the same unit, came to the T&T Guardian
to make inquiries about Monday s incidents.
A statement issued yesterday by the reg-
iment s public affairs officer Capt Stefan
Affonso confirmed soldiers were on the
compound of the newspaper while a man
they were searching for was being inter-
The army distanced itself from a bomb
threat which prompted the evacuation of
the building and disrupted the CNC3 news-
cast and other media operations.
A clearer picture emerged yesterday of
where the soldiers were and with whom
they spoke. Initial reports said they rushed
into the car park and questioned the security
guard on duty about a red Mazda car.
The soldiers, dressed in camouflage and
carrying assault rifles, were in fact seen
walking near the car and were approached
by the guard. They asked how long the vehi-
cle had been parked there and when told
since 6.15 am, they walked away.
They joined another soldier who was in
a military vehicle parked near the entrance
of the building. The soldiers showed up
moments after Skeete, his relatives and his
attorney arrived at the T&T Guardian to be
The bomb threat was made at 3.10 pm
while the interview was taking place. Shortly
after, a senior soldier telephoned an editor,
saying he had heard a man whom soldiers
were looking for was in the building.
•See Pages A7 and A16
Laventille residents still cry:
Soldiers abusing us
Speaking in an interview last week
Friday on radio station I95 FM, Major
Arden Williams said the T&T Regiment
could patrol without the police.
He added that soldiers patrol ahead of
police officers and that too was part of
the joint patrols between police and
He also said acting Commissioner of
Police Stephen Williams had contacted
Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Kenrick
Maharaj to ask for assistance and that the
Defence Force would not sit idly by while
the crime scourge continued.
"We have had, over the past months,
joint patrols being under attacks by
gunmen taking up strongholds in trenches
and we have gone into the area and
dominated the vantage points and denied
the space of the individuals," Major
Asked if the increased presence of
soldiers was due to the June 29 murder of
Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas, Williams said
no. Williams said the death of Thomas
was the culmination of attacks in the
Laventille area by criminal elements.
Asked whether he gave permission for
soldiers to operate independently, the
acting CoP said that would be illogical.
He added that he could not give any
orders to soldiers to operate on their own
as they were under the purview of the
Chief of Defence Staff.
He confirmed he had sought the
assistance of the regiment but denied
having sanctioned independent patrols by
Some members of a CEPEP work crew walk along Desperlie Crescent, Laventille, after an
interview with a news team from GML yesterday. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
ARMY: NO POLICE NEEDED
Regiment to probe 'stakeout' at GML
The regiment admitted yesterday soldiers interacted
with the guard in the car park but said the guard only
asked them to move their vehicle which they did.
"CCTV footage made available to the T&T Defence
Force Investigations Unit revealed that the soldiers did
not rush in or even enter the Guardian Media Ltd build-
ing but remained in the car park for a short time before
leaving," the statement said.
No police officers accompanied the soldiers nor did
the release state the reason why the soldiers were on
In relation to claims that the regiment was "hunting"
Skeete, the statement said that was not the case but
issued an open invitation for Skeete and his lawyer to
visit regiment headquarters" at any time suitable to
him to discuss any concerns that he may have.
"Other operations referred to by Mr Skeete were po-
lice-led and supported by soldiers," it added.
Skeete and his relatives claimed otherwise.
The statement added: "In the conduct of these oper-
ations, there are allegations made by members of the
public that there have been abuses of power by sol-
"It is critical to emphasise that the regiment has
thoroughly investigated and will continue to investi-
gate all reports of abuse and discipline accordingly in
its stand to preserve law and order.
"The regiment, as an arm of the Defence Force,
stands steadfast to support all arms of law enforce-
ment in the fight against criminal elements in our com-
munities and remains committed to the preservation
of law and order and the protection and safety of all
Managing director of Guardian Media Ltd Lisa
Agard assured the company was giving its full co-op-
eration to the regiment but had also made an official
complaint to the police.
She added: "They (the army investigators) told us
that as a consequence of what they read in the
Guardian they came to investigate what had hap-
pened, in particular with the soldiers.
"So we allowed them to interview two people who
interacted with the soldiers," Agard said.
Wesley Gibbings, general secretary of the Associa-
tion of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), described
Monday's incident as "an outrageous turn of events"
and demanded that it should be thoroughly and fairly
"It is unacceptable and it must be seen as a threat
against press freedom," Gibbings said.
He said the journalists involved in the story were
not in breach of any law and it was easy to conclude
that the approach by the military was intimidatory.
PM must speak--- PNM
The Prime Minister and the Attorney General owe
the country a duty to say what exactly is the role and
function of soldiers as Monday's incident was a clear
breach of their functions said public relations officer
of the PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi.
He was fielding questions from the media during
yesterday's break in the Senate.
Describing the matter as a serious cause for con-
cern, Al-Rawi said: "The allegations are that the De-
fence Force came in hot pursuit of a cold case, having
been tipped off that somebody had come to speak to
"When that person didn't appear, then a bomb
scare mysteriously happened, as a result of which the
building had to be evacuated.
"If any of that has a tie-in to the actions of the sol-
diers involved in that pursuit, then we are in serious
He said it was conspicuous that the AG had noth-
ing to say and it was habitual that the Prime Minister
would have nothing to say.
On the Hunt
Soldiers have been searching several areas after
Thomas was murdered on June 29. Relatives of
Skeete claimed masked soldiers had searched their
homes in Couva, Champs Fleurs, East Dry River, and
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