Another former soldier held in T&T plot probe

(Trinidad Express) Another former member of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force has been arrested by police in connection with the alleged assassination plot against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three Cabinet members.

The 30-year-old suspect, who lives at Picton Road, Laventille, was yesterday described by police as one of the main ‘shooters’ for the gang.

The arrest brings to four the total number of ex-members of the Defence Force held in connection with the alleged plot to assassinate Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma. They are three ex-soldiers, one of whom was set free in a high-profile murder trial, and a former coast guard officer.

The latest arrest also brings the number of persons in police custody since last week in connection with the alleged plot to 14, among them a police sergeant, Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis and businessman Khalil Karamath, the son of deceased contractor Hafeez Karamath.

Police stations throughout the country have also been listed as potential targets in the alleged plot as well as several senior police officers.

Commenting on the latest arrest, National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy yesterday assured that even though the ex-soldiers would have been trained by the army, should they decide to fight against the military, it would be a losing battle for them.

Sandy was speaking with reporters after attending a service at the Poonah Open Bible Miracle Centre in Williamsville.

The ex-soldier held on Saturday night, police said, was dishonourably discharged from the Army last year after he was arrested by police and charged with an alleged robbery in South Trinidad.

Police held the suspect in a vehicle during a roadblock exercise along the Lady Young Road in Belmont on Saturday night, which was coordinated by Snr Supt Glen Hackett, head of the Port of Spain CID and supervised by Insp Sahadeo Singh and Insp Williams of the Besson Street CID.

He was taken into custody and later handed over to the special team of officers probing the alleged plot.

On August 29, days after the State of Emergency and limited curfew restrictions were announced by Persad-Bissessar, a police exercise at Picton Road, led by Insp Singh, resulted in the seizure of a rifle, genuine military uniforms, ammunition and other contraband items.

On that day, 22 suspects were taken into custody by police, 18 of them allegedly linked to the Picton Road gang.

Police said they found a Venezuela-made FAL high-powered rifle, two military bullet-proof vests, 257 rounds of assorted ammunition, several ski masks, genuine military camouflage uniforms, firearm holsters and a quantity of marijuana.

The items police said, were discovered buried near the ex-soldier’s home off Picton Road.

The 18 alleged gang members were later charged by police under the Anti-Gang Act, but were subsequently freed after Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard discontinued the matters against them because of insufficient evidence.

The ex-soldier, police said, had been on the run from the law since and wasn’t caught until Saturday night during a roadblock exercise.

During the exercise, police issued 30 fixed penalty traffic offence tickets to errant motorists and arrested four persons for allegedly being in possession of marijuana.

The exercise involved close to 40 police officers from the Special Anti-Crime Unit’s Canine Unit, the Police Service Canine Unit, the Guard and Emergency and Court and Process Branch, Inter-Agency Task Force, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, Port of Spain CID, Criminal Records Office, Stolen Vehicles’ Squad and the Port of Spain Division.

Police are searching for an undisclosed number of persons who have been described as “middlemen” in the alleged plot.

The suspects at large are said to be linked to a radical Muslim group based in Central Trinidad and are members of the Picton Road, Laventille, and other criminal gangs.

 

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