T&T: Police confirm arrests
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC- Trinidad and Tobago police Thursday confirmed that a “number of arrests “had been made as law enforcement officials continue their probe into an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and senior members of her coalition people’s partnership government.
Police public information officer sergeant Wayne Mystar, told a news conference that the investigations involved all the security forces on the island.
“We want to confirm that the protective services, they have unearthed a threat to national security,” he said, adding the “threat involves members of the government and a number of arrests have been made”.
Mystar did not specify how many people had been arrested, but media reports Thursday speculated that two former members of the army and a former senior police officer had been taken in for questioning.
Mystar said that “all arms of the protective services are collaborating to ensure the preservation of national security and remain on high alert”.
He said no further information would be given “at this time because this would compromise the investigations”.
But the main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) has already dismissed the allegation of the plot, saying it hopes the government is not using the issue to extend the state of emergency (SOE) that has been in effect here since august 21.
Former junior national security minister Fitzgerald Hinds said that while the party would not dismiss the threat to kill any citizen lightly, “it is our hope that the security will deal with the matter and treat with it within the law.
“It is also our hope that by the time they arrest these people (they would) have gathered enough evidence to satisfy the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution Roger Garpard) …rather than act as wildly and foolishly as they did with regards to the anti-gang matter in the recent past” a reference to the number of people that were detained under the SOE and released for lack of evidence.
National security adviser Gary Griffith said it is likely that National Security Minister retired Brigadier John Sandy will issue a statement later on Thursday.
“I would not want to say more at this time, it will be revealed in due course, hopefully later today. I think it is the right of citizens to know the security of the state but for obvious reasons there are times it could be revealed.
“I think the time has come and I think we can refer to Mr. Sandy’s statement a few months ago when he was criticised when he said 1990 would have looked like a tea party. So I think it will all come to light”.
Sandy had defended the coalition people’s partnership government’s decision to impose the SOE telling Sandy told legislators that the government had no choice but to impose the measure and the accompanying five-hour curfew, which has since been lifted, because the authorities had to act to prevent a “bloodbath” that would have made 1990 a “Christmas tea party”.
In 1990, members of the radical Jamaat Al Muslimeen group staged an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the then government of Prime Minister ANR Robinson.
At least 24 people, including one legislator, Leo des Vignes, were killed during the six day insurrection that ended on August 1.
The group’s leader, Yasin Abu Bakr and his men were tried for treason, but the court of appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released.
However, the London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest court, later invalidated the amnesty, but the Muslim members were not re-arrested.
Griffith told television viewers that while Dandy would be the person giving “more information pertaining to what has happened, what I can say is that whatever plan was afoot, the law enforcement agencies are in full control of the situation and again this here is based on individuals who wanted the state of emergency to be seen as a dismal failure and because of their concerns that the state of emergency had affected them”.
But Hinds said that the PNM had “great difficulty accepting as true anything this government says.
“We do not know why they have imposed a state of emergency, they have kept that to their bosom …death threats to prime ministers are not knew so we are wanting to think that this government’s behavior is wanton, wild, excessive and excitable and it may very well be that they are doing this as well as a platform to come to the parliament to extend the state of emergency”.