(Trinidad Express) Gangs are engaged in a public relations ploy to garner sympathy from citizens and prevent law enforcement officials from infiltrating their illegal organisations, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has said.
Individuals are being offered as much as $10,000 to be beaten by gangsters and blame their bruises on brutality by law enforcement officials, Ramlogan said.
A public relations agency was offered $100,000 to help enhance the image of a gang, he said.
Ramlogan made the statements in response to claims by three Claxton Bay men that they were beaten by soldiers.
Brothers Brian, 32, and Dwayne, 25, Harricharan and Sheldon Best, 40, claimed they were stripped naked and beaten by soldiers in search of a suspected gang leader during an exercise in Claxton Bay.
Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj said an investigation was launched into the incident and there were no findings of wrongdoing on the part of the soldiers.
A gang leader under surveillance for the last two months is believed to be hiding in the area, Maharaj said.
Maharaj and Ramlogan spoke yesterday during the daily news briefing to give updates to the media and the public on the State of Emergency and curfew restrictions which are in effect.
“Our soldiers, sailors and airmen are operating under very strict guidelines to ensure that they adhere to the highest standard of military conduct and professionalism in all of these operations and one component of the guideline speaks to humane treatment with civilians in all of these operations,” Maharaj said.
“So I just want to give the national community the assurance that we will continue to engage in a professional manner. If any report is substantiated it will be dealt with in accordance with the uniform code of military justice and treated expeditiously,” he said.
Ramlogan said in response to the dent being made by law enforcement during the state of emergency, gangs opted to gain sympathy from law abiding citizens in an attempt to thwart further action by law enforcement.
“Let us not be railroaded by this kind of trickery taking place. It is too convenient and it is popping up as a well timed well orchestrated and well managed affair,” Ramlogan said.
“I have been receiving reports that there are people who are going about actually asking individuals in their communities whether they would take a little lash with a welt on their back because television cameras coming and you have to say the police do it or the soldiers do it,” Ramlogan said.