Trinidad Top Cop says police did not ‘raid’ radio station

(Trinidad Guardian) Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith yes­ter­day de­nied that po­lice of­fi­cers raid­ed the of­fices of Jaagri­ti TV. He said the of­fi­cers did not use a heavy-hand­ed ap­proach to ob­tain a copy of au­dio-vi­su­al ma­te­r­i­al for their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

In a me­dia re­lease yes­ter­day, Gif­fith said of­fi­cers from the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit went “peace­ful­ly and re­spect­ful­ly” to the me­dia house with a search war­rant for a copy of a pro­gramme which had been mak­ing the rounds on so­cial me­dia.

“Of­fi­cers first showed the war­rant to the sta­tion man­ag­er and re­spect­ful­ly wait­ed in the re­cep­tion area for the ar­rival of its CEO, Mr Sat­narayan Ma­haraj,” the re­lease stat­ed.

Gary Griffith

“Up­on his ar­rival at the sta­tion, Mr Ma­haraj was shown the search war­rant and peace­ful­ly co­op­er­at­ed with the of­fi­cers. Two of his at­tor­neys ar­rived a short while lat­er and while speak­ing to him in his of­fice, po­lice al­lowed his lawyers to read the doc­u­ment as well.”

Grif­fith de­scribed sub­se­quent state­ments by the Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion of T&T (MATT) on the mat­ter as “in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing” and claimed po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the ex­er­cise were false­ly ac­cused of un­pro­fes­sion­al con­duct and in­tim­i­da­tion.

He said the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) will con­tin­ue its in­quiries in­to the math­er and “stands firm­ly on its man­date to en­sure law and or­der.”

How­ev­er, the in­ci­dent con­tin­ued to at­tract crit­i­cisms yes­ter­day, with the Na­tion­al Trade Union Cen­tre (NATUC) call­ing for the res­ig­na­tion of the board of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­i­ty of T&T (TATT).

The trade union body said it “con­demns the bla­tant vi­o­la­tion and to­tal dis­re­gard for the fun­da­men­tal rights of Ra­dio Jaagri­ti, to be heard and con­front their ac­cusers against any al­le­ga­tions made against them, re­al or imag­i­nary.”

In a state­ment, Gen­er­al Sec­re­tary Michael An­nisette said: “The rights of all cit­i­zens to be giv­en a fair chance to be heard in their de­fence must be re­spect­ed by all. The un­mis­tak­en, one-sided, co­er­cive and ma­nip­u­la­tive use by the TATT of their reg­u­la­to­ry rules against Ra­dio Jaagri­ti must be re­sist­ed, if on­ly to pro­tect our coun­try from sink­ing in­to trib­al­ism and di­vi­sive­ness.

“We in NATUC views the shame­ful and un­de­mo­c­ra­t­ic act of the TATT as be­ing cor­ro­sive and po­ten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous to our de­mo­c­ra­t­ic right to free­dom of speech.”

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