Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, July 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen
Williams is condemning soldiers going out
on patrols and carrying out operations on
He also made it clear there was a role for
the Police Service and another role for the
Defence Force, adding that it was illegal for
soldiers to wear masks and carry out search-
es.Over the last two weeks there have been
numerous complaints by members of the
public, especially those who live in "hot spot"
areas, of soldier abuse. Since the June 29
shooting death of Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas
Laventille residents have claimed soldiers
were patrolling, searching were "arresting"
people without police officers present.
At a press briefing held at the Police
Administration Building yesterday, Williams
said he was aware of these complaints, and
also expressed concern.
"What has been happening over the last
two weeks, I personally, as the head of the
Police Service, I have concerns. I have similar
concerns which you share. I have brought
those concerns to the attention of the chief
of Defence Staff (Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj)
and he has given me the assurance that he
has not authorised any soldier to carry out
any operations," Williams said.
Williams said he had been out of the coun-
try for the last nine days and it was unfair
for people to complain about his silence on
He said he also sought clarity from Maharaj
whether there has been any change in the
instructions given to the soldiers.
"He made it clear to me there has been
no change by way of his directions, because
soldiers generally operate in support of the
Police Service. It is a longstanding arrange-
ment that goes way back to time immemo-
Williams said the joint army-police patrols
came into effect in 2003 and fell under the
unit of the Interagency Task Force, with a
focus on operating in high-risk communities.
This year, he said, additional demands were
made for the support of the Defence Force
when there were 19 murders within seven
But he said "under no circumstances" was
there a request for soldiers to carry out oper-
ations on their own that included searching
"I was given the assurance by the Chief
of Defence Staff that he has not authorised
any detachment of soldiers to be carrying
out operations on their own," he repeated.
"The operation of the Defence Force, in the
context of the relationship with the Police
Service, is in support of the Police Service.
And the Defence Force normally makes ref-
erence to it in the form of aid to civil power.
"I gave no direction and I have not received
any further information from the Chief of
Defence Staff of him authorising operations,"
He said claims of assault by soldiers must
be reported to police to be investigated, and
said these reports would be probed with the
same thoroughness and swiftness as allega-
tions against the police.
"If a citizen is adversely affected, that
person must support that allegation. But
I am not in charge of the Defence Force.
But as the head of the Police Service I am
under an obligation to bring to the head of
the Defence Force the issues that are out
in the public domain, which I am sure he
is aware of.
He said the presence of soldiers in a com-
munity was not illegal but their actions could
be deemed unlawful.
On whether he would call on Maharaj to
account for the behaviour of the soldiers,
Williams said it was not his place to do so.
On allegations made in the Senate on Tues-
day by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan
that the police were protecting drug blocks
and brothels, Williams said he was unaware
"People tend to say all kinds of things in
Parliament. What I can tell you is I am not
protecting any drug block and I am not pro-
tecting any brothel." See Pages A7 and A9
Top Cop condemns soldiers' actions
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams
makes a point during yesterday's news
conference. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
When contacted, National
Security Minister Gary
Griffith said he was assured
that all operations in
Laventille involved the police.
Griffith said he was told of
this when he personally
contacted the police and the
"We have seen a group of
two soldiers, for instance,
patrolling Frederick Street,
but there is always the
nearby presence of the
"Nothing is wrong with
"We have to ensure there
are no renegade elements
involved," Griffith added.
He said some of those
who claimed soldiers were
carrying out operations on
their own might be criminal
elements who were scared.
"I have been bombarded
by numerous calls from
people in the Laventille
district who said they are
pleased by the presence of
soldiers and they felt safer.
"But at the same time, we
have to ensure what they
are doing, they have the
On the issue of soldiers staking out the
T&T Guardian building in Port-of-Spain on
Monday, apparently in search of Dillon
"Bandy" Skeete on Monday, Williams said
this was being investigated.
Griffith said he had received an official
report and immediately contacted
He said he was also making
arrangements for the Defence Force
hierarchy to meet with the management
of Guardian Media Ltd to ensure the
matter was quickly dealt with.
NO OPERATIONS WITHOUT POLICE: GRIFFITH
A visit to George Street, Port-of-
Spain to see his six-year-old daugh-
ter turned tragic for a Laventille
man who claimed to have been
ambushed, beaten and robbed by
two soldiers before he could com-
plete his daily routine.
The incident on Tuesday morning
is the latest report of abuse from res-
idents of east Port-of-Spain, since
soldiers began patrolling their com-
munities following the murder of
their colleague Lance Corporal Kay-
ode Thomas on June 29.
In an interview at the Port-of-
Spain General Hospital, in the pres-
ence of his lawyer Varun Debideen
yesterday, 35-year-old Leon King, of
Block 8, Laventille, recounted his
ordeal with the two soldiers which
left him with several injuries including
a broken jaw.
King said around 4.30 am he was
about to enter the stair well at his
ex-wife s apartment building when
he was confronted by the soldiers
patrolling the housing complex.
"One tell me to lie down on the
stairs and the one with the mask tell
me empty my pockets," King said.
He claimed that as he was about
to comply, one of them struck him
twice on his face with a gun.
He said when he fell over the two
soldiers began violently prodding his
back with the barrels and butts of
their assault rifles while searching
"Thank God an old lady see and
was bawling out for me. That is what
make them leave me alone," King
He said before they left, the soldiers
took $225 which they had emptied
from his pocket, leaving him with
only his two cellphones.
Barely able to walk, King stumbled
to his car which was parked a short
distance away and drove to the hos-
pital for treatment.
Asked if he was questioned over
Thomas s murder or in relation to
Dillon "Bandy" Skeete---the Laventille
resident who has been labelled a sus-
pect in the murder by the Defence
Force---King said no.
"I don t know about Thomas and
Bandy," King said.
Apart from the pain of his injuries,
King said he was disappointed by the
soldiers attack as he was one of the
few east Port-of-Spain residents who
supported the patrols in their com-
"Before with the police alone you
would still hear gunshots ring out in
the night. Now with the soldiers
around that don t happen again, so
people could sleep in the night.
"But look what they do me. I can t
trust no soldier again," an emotional
King said while clutching the right
side of his face as he grimaced in
pain with each word.
King s incident occurred hours
before two employees of the Com-
munity-based Environmental Pro-
tection and Enhancement Programme
(Cepep) Ishmael Job and Brandon
Granger claimed they were attacked
by soldiers at a job site near their
homes at Desperlie Crescent, Laven-
King is scheduled to undergo sur-
gery tomorrow to repair his jaw and
is expected to lodge a formal report
to both the police and the Defence
Force after he recovers.
Meanwhile, he has given instruc-
tions to his lawyer to initiate an
assault and battery lawsuit against
Contacted yesterday liaison officer
for the T&T Regiment, Capt Stefan
Affonso, said although the Defence
Force were yet to receive an official
report on the incident, it would still
start an investigation into the incident.
"We are actively investigating all
reports of abuse," Affonso said.
Laventille man: I was also beaten
Leon King shows the
injuries to his back
which he said he
Tuesday's attack by
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