Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 22nd 2014 Contents Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of crime
Glenn Hackett says the investigation into the mil-
itary operation at the doorstep of the Guardian
Media Ltd building last Monday is ongoing.
In a telephone interview yesterday Hackett said:
"There are issues which still need to be ironed out."
He could not give a timeframe when that would
When contacted acting Police Commissioner
Stephen Williams also said investigations were con-
Last Monday soldiers parked outside the entrance
of the T&T Guardian and ventured into the car
park asking about a parked vehicle while a man
they wanted to question for the murder of Lance
Cpl Kayode Thomas was being interviewed inside
Thomas, a father of eight, was shot dead on June
29 at Plaisance Quarry Road, John John.
The suspect, identified as Dillon "Bandy" Skeete,
met with a T&T Guardian reporter on Monday.
A series of incidents took place shortly before
Armed soldiers went to the Queen Street car
park of the newspaper and questioned the security
guard and another member of staff about a parked
red Mazda car.
As the interview was ending, around 3.10 pm,
an unidentified man telephoned the T&T Guardian
operator and said there was a bomb in the building
and it would blow up if "you all don't ----ing
By then Skeete had left the building. A senior
soldier then telephoned an editor saying he had
heard a man who soldiers were looking for was in
The building was evacuated for over two hours
as police searched it. News operations at the media
house was disrupted.
At a press conference last week Williams assured
that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.
The issue also sparked concerns about soldiers
overstepping their bounds in Laventille. Williams
in a press conference last week said it was illegal
for soldiers for go on patrols and on operations
without the police and instructed police to arrest
those in breach of the law.
A spokesman from the Regiment's Military Inves-
tigations Unit said there were several reports made
by civilians of beatings by soldiers but these had
to be properly investigated.
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Law Association on soldiers' operations:
for 21st JULY, 2014
Illegal and out of line is the view of the
Law Association on reports of soldiers
carrying out operations on their own.
It noted with deep concern reports of
soldiers performing police duties, including
search and entry into citizens' homes, and
attempting to arrest people.
Breaking its silence on the issue, the asso-
ciation, in a media statement issued shortly
after 7 pm last night, said the actions of
soldiers in the field could only be lawful if
they were complying with the instructions
of a police officer.
It called for the rules on such exercises
to be clearly laid out and for alleged abuses
by soldiers to be investigated.
Last week, acting Commissioner of Police
Stephen Williams said he did not request
soldier patrols independent of the police
and added that rogue soldiers could be
arrested and charged.
He said the last request for joint patrols
was made in January.
Williams added that soldiers were not
authorised to search and exercise police
National Security Minister Gary Griffith
said last week: "There is nothing illegal in
a patrol independent of police officers" but
acknowledged the concerns about the need
for a police presence in cases where arrests
and searches of homes and vehicles were
Griffith said the objection to the patrols
were being made by a few and the majority
of people welcomed them.
After the murder of Lance Cpl Kayode
Thomas on June 29, soldiers from Camp
Ogden were deployed in the crime hotspots
of Laventille and east Port-of-Spain and
also carried out operations in Toco, Champs
Fleurs and Couva in search of a man they
reportedly said was a suspect.
Several people complained that the sol-
diers were acting on their own, carrying
out searches and detaining people. Some
also claimed they were beaten and ques-
tioned about the whereabouts of the suspect,
Dillon "Bandy" Skeete.
Police, however, said Skeete was not want-
ed in connection with the killing.
The Law Association statement, signed
by its president Seenath Jairam, said although
he supported any and all legitimate efforts
to combat the surge of crime "such efforts
must be conducted within the confines of
laws of T&T and with due respect for the
rule of law and the constitutional rights of
He pointed out: "Any search, seizure or
arrest of civilians executed by members of
the Defence Force can only be legally done
on the instruction of a police officer, failing
which no member of the Defence Force has
the jurisdiction and/or authority to carry
"Any purported search, seizure and/or
arrest of a civilian by a member of the
Defence Force without being so instructed
is therefore unlawful."
Jairam called for deeper collaboration
between the Defence Force and the Police
Service and "the refinement of and adher-
ence to clear protocols to guide joint patrols
and searches, arrests and detentions.
He added: "In the interest of transparency
and recognition of the fundamental rights
of individuals, the association urges that a
proper and urgent investigation be conducted
into recent allegations of abuse of citizens.
"The association underscores that these
steps are necessary to ensure that the con-
stitutional rights of citizens are preserved,
even as innovative methods are utilised to
combat the scourge of crime."
tradition of long
during part of
They must get cops ok
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