(Trinidad Express) “The threat is real and I am saddened to learn that some people who ought to know better are trivialising it.”
These were the words of National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy in a response he sent to the Sunday Express yesterday regarding the alleged assassination plot against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three Cabinet Ministers.
Yesterday was the first time Sandy commented on the issue since it came to the forefront last week.
Sandy’s response came on the heels of statements made by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley during a press briefing he hosted last Friday Tower D at the International Waterfront.
Rowley described the Government’s response to the alleged plot as “hysterical political expediency”.
“The action is overkill and is meant to send a signal that the Government is treating with a very serious matter in a way, not to bring about successful prosecution, but to bring about political sympathy,” Rowley said.
He also lashed out at Sandy, accusing him of remaining silent on such a matter of national security.
Rowley said one could not help but notice the “pusillanimous silence” of Sandy and called on the Minister to state where the country stood on the matter with respect to “information, evidence, arrest and charge” and “not hide behind the skirt-tail of the Prime Minister”. He also called on Sandy to provide the country with adequate, satisfactory and believable information to justify the action the Government has taken to date on the alleged threat.
But Sandy, in a text message response to enquiries from the Sunday Express, said yesterday he was satisfied with the statement made on the matter by Persad-Bissessar in her capacity of chairman of the National Security Council. Sandy also maintained that the threat is real.
“… The PM as head of the Nat Sec Council made a public statement and we answered questions from the Press. There is not much more I can say having regard to the fact that police operations are ongoing and they remain the appropriate source to divulge further information.
“I can only confirm that the threat is real and I am saddened to learn of some people who ought to know better are trivialising it,” Sandy said.
Rowley also stated publicity of the “new and elevated plot” has come in the dying stages of a State of Emergency “even as the initial plot (which led to the calling of the State of Emergency on August 21) remains a secret and unexplained”. The SoE ends on December 5.
There have criticisms and disbelief by several organisations and members of the public who have described the threats as a political “smokescreen” by the Government.
Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson, head of Anti-Crime Operations and senior intelligence officers, have described the alleged threat as real in nature and one that had nothing to do with politics.
They have also refused to divulge any further information citing it could compromise their investigations.
On Thursday, Persad-Bissessar, during the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, confirmed reports that she and three members of her Cabinet were the subjects of an assassination plot. She then described the alleged plot as an “evil, devious act of treason”.
Up to late yesterday, 13 suspects, among them a police sergeant and two ex-members of the Defence Force, one of them who was freed in a high-profile murder trail, remained in police custody.