19 August 2014 It seemed unusual that a woman and man caught smoking cigarettes at a bar in Marabella, were brought to court yesterday in handcuffs for violating the no-smoking law. Shantel Ali Bocus, 20, of Princes Town and Marvin Trotman, 35, of San Fernando were charged separately under the Tobacco Control Act which has been in force since February 2010. Both were charged by constable Devon Meah and pleaded guilty. They were held last Saturday at Kansas City Recreational Club at Southern Main Road, Marabella, and charged with holding or smoking a tobacco product in an enclosed public place. Bocus, the mother of a three-month-old son, was also charged with resisting arrest. She was fined $1,500 ($237 USD) for smoking and $750 ($118 USD) for resisting the officer in the execution of his duty. In default of paying both fines in eight weeks, Ali Bocus will serve three months in prison. Trotman, a labourer, told Diop he was highly intoxicated and "wasn't in my clear head... I was wrong". The father of two, who had a previous conviction for possession of marijuana, was fined $3,000 ($473 USD). He was given four weeks to pay the money or he will serve four months in prison.
16 August 2014 Having developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense crime fighter, Central Division head Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham repeated his warning to criminals to stay away from Central. He made the statement moments after police officers, on Thursday night, shot and killed two armed bandits who earlier robbed a Couva woman of her van valued at $250,000 ($39,500 USD). It is alleged that the men, in their attempt to evade capture, fired upon the police officers who responded to the robbery report. Abraham said: "I warn wrongdoers to stay away from Central please. But if they do come and they commit a crime, they must surrender peacefully. Once they engage my officers, we are going to deal with them decisively and I have been saying from time and time again. Some people take heed and they stay away. Others didn't." One of the men killed has been identified as Beresford Asson of Sangre Grande while the other man is yet to be identified.
15 August 2014 The number of confirmed cases of chikungunya virus (ChikV) has increased to 22 with over 60 cases suspected, says Health Minister Fuad Khan. He said the virus could only be developed if the mosquitoes were given breeding grounds to survive. It was first confirmed that chikungunya had entered the country in early July, when the Health Ministry reported three cases. Before then, the virus had been making its way through 26 other Caribbean countries.
8 August 2014 The Cabinet yesterday approved a note on the implementation of a national ban on shark-finning, following a report that T&T ranks sixth worldwide in terms of the volume of shark fins supplied to Japan. Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj said this raised flags on an international level and questioned the sustainability of the country's fishing industry if this was occurring. Maharaj noted that T&T was a signatory to many internationally binding agreements on conservation and trade of biodiversity and in light of the destructive effects of shark-finning to populations and the vulnerability of sharks to over-exploitation, it was imperative for this practice to be banned. T&T is the first country in the Caribbean to put such a ban in place.
5 August 2014 If there were such thing as a perfect beach, Maracas Bay would be it. The beach's tall, towering palm trees -- set against dramatic rainforest cliffs -- make this Trinidad's most popular strip of sand. For the truly adventurous, there's also one of the world's most famous sandwich shops: Richard's Bake and Shark, a regional dish with a cult-following made from deep-fried shark stuffed into fried dough. Yum, right? Shark or no shark, Maracas Bay is a stellar place to relax. Take a look!
20 July 2014 Hundreds of young people took to the streets of Port-of-Spain yesterday to march against escalating crime plaguing Trinidad and Tobago. Young people from various churches and organisations began their march from Adam Smith Square in Woodbrook and converged at Woodford Square, downtown for a day of prayer and praise, calling on youth to put down their guns. Jovon George, youth president at Woodbrook Pentecostal Church and chairman of the Positive Movement Planning Committee stated, "All these negative things that are taking place are not normal. We don't want to get accustomed to having three and four people being murdered over one weekend. We want to get accustomed to living life."
15 July 2014 A military manhunt for a man who soldiers say can help them solve the murder of their colleague Kayode Thomas led to drama on the doorstep of Guardian Media Ltd yesterday. The suspect, identified as Dillon "Bandy" Skeete, agreed to meet with a T&T Guardian reporter yesterday at around 4 pm. A series of incidents took place shortly before the meeting. During the interview, Skeete claimed he was being hunted across the country by soldiers and feared for his life. As the interview was ending, about 20 minutes later, an unidentified man telephoned the T&T Guardian operator and said there was a bomb in the building. By then Skeete had left the building. A senior soldier then telephoned an editor saying he had heard a man who soldiers were looking for was in the building. The bomb scare delayed the CNC3 7 pm newscast and affected the Crime Watch programme and other media operations. Skeete's lawyer said his client was able to elude the military dragnet and made it to a safe location.
14 July 2014 Statistically, young people have been in the majority when it comes to violent crime whether as victim or perpetrator. This was the view of Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams in response to the number of teenagers who have been gunned down for the year. To date, out of 233 people murdered for 2014, 19 have been under the age of 20. However, Williams said, "A lot of murders during the years have involved young people. Young people are the victims, and perpetrators. That population group is the most vulnerable." Williams said the police and society have a challenge with young people being involved in violent crimes. He said the Police Service is concerned about the situation but there is nothing unexpected about young people being perpetrators or victims. Commenting on the fear citizens are feeling as the murder toll rises, Williams said, "Every single violent act such as a shooting or murder brings with it fear. Until as a society we can address the violence, there will be fear."
13 July 2014 Former hostages of the 1990 attempted coup believe T&T's National Security agencies should be on the alert as a result of the climate of uneasiness pervading the land—rising murder toll, gang warfare, labour unrest and poor governance. They also feel that the authorities should take action against Fuad Abu Bakr, son of Jamaat leader Yasin Abu Bakr, for beating and dragging an effigy of the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader through the streets of Port-of-Spain. Seventh-Day Adventist pastor Clive Dottin agreed that the country was in a "fragile state" and the beating of the bobolees sent a "dangerous signal that security can be breached at any time." Former hostage, Wendell Eversley, said the upsurge in murders and gang warfare was a clear sign that all was not well in T&T. He said criminals were getting too restless, and there was an uneasy feeling pervading the land with government offices shutting down, unions staging protests, and poor governance. "We are heading down a dangerous road." Asked if he was fearful of another coup attempt, Eversley said, "yes."
1 July 2014 While there has been an increase in domestic travel to Tobago, there has been a 75-80 per cent drop in international arrivals and this is not sitting well with Hotel and Tourism Association president Christopher James. James said this decrease, coupled with the low detection rate in relation to crime in Tobago, is a recipe for a disaster. "We know that Virgin (Airlines) pulled out for two reasons—the airport and the other reason was the lack of choice of hotels, and the lack of quality hotels. So we're emphasising we need four-star and above hotels, and the only way we're going to get that is with some guarantee from the Government that we are serious about tourism." He said the low crime detection rate needs to be looked at, in terms of the impact on the tourism industry. "We need the crime detection rate to be increased. Crime has two problems in Tobago, it has the social problem it has all over the world, but it also has the economic," said James.
28 June 2014 Rajaee Ali, coordinator of the LifeSport programme in Carapo, is the main suspect in the murder of Dana Seetahal SC, Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert said yesterday. He was speaking on a motion asking the House to censure Sport Minister Anil Roberts for facilitating the funding of criminals and criminal enterprise through the LifeSport Programme. He also called on Government to fire Ali from the programme. Imbert noted that in an interview National Security Minister Gary Griffith described Ali as a "don" and "the godfather", who has been named in most of the murders in Arouca, Maloney, D'Abadie and O'Meara. "The same man! The same man who was charged for murder, who escaped from prison, bribing a prison guard, the same man that police described in 2007 as armed and dangerous. This same man is hired to run the Carapo arm of the Life Sport programme. And that is the man the Minister of National Security was talking about when he said that LifeSport was financing criminals," Imbert added. Rajaee Ali is signing contracts in the Ministry of Sport, going in and out of the Ministry of Sport as if he own the place, collecting money under LifeSport for one year... "I hope the Minister of National Security has fired this individual and removed him from the programme," Imbert said.
23 June 2014 The Trinidad and Tobago Regiment is warning of a "direct and real threat" to the health, well-being and very lives of the public, including members of the protective services, by heavily armed criminals who have no fear or regard of anyone. In a release issued on the weekend under the hand of Regiment PRO Captain Stefan Affonso, the Regiment emphasised that the daily threat to life and limb by criminals to both soldiers and police officers, while both on and off duty, is real and direct. Criminals are using controlled military uniforms, high-powered arms and ammunition against innocent law-abiding citizens and law enforcement officials, with often fatal consequences, Capt Affonso noted in the release. Soldiers and police officers have been shot at several times in the past while on Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) patrols and while not always highlighted in the media, these incidents are occurring more frequently in what can be considered traditional hot spot areas. On at least four occasions, in the May-June period, IATF Patrols have encountered hostility.
21 June 2014 13 per cent of murders 'solved' With the murder toll now at 200, 23 more than the corresponding period for last year, police are saying the "solution rate" is on the upswing, with people having been charged in 26 cases. This means that police have been able to close the file in 13 per cent of the cases. Over the last few months the Police Service has been boasting in television and newspaper advertisements that there had been a 26 per cent decline in serious crimes, excluding murder, and the seizure of over 300 guns, the main weapon used in murders. But that has done little to comfort members of the public who remain crippled by the fear of crime and the brazen daylight killings which remain unsolved. Head of the Homicide Bureau ACP Wayne Dick said his records showed that there had been an increase in the number of murders solved. Dick said he solved 32 murders this year, six of which had happened in the two preceding years. He added that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard currently had four other files on murders which occurred this year and by the end of the month four more files would be sent to him for instructions.
4 June 2014 British High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Arthur Snell, yesterday rang alarm bells on this country's spiralling crime situation especially the murders of children and young people. Telling the gathering, at the Port-of-Spain Rotary Club, that he was making his pronouncement on Trinidad and Tobago's crime, especially murders, not because of his diplomatic career which has seen him posted to this country over the past three years, but because he has a child with a Trinidad and Tobago electronic birth certificate. In relation to the spate of violent crimes involving young people, Snell rang the alarm bells saying while people continue to point fingers and blame each other for the lawlessness, the country is rapidly drowning in a sea of blood, murder and mayhem. The High Commissioner said he wants to know what has happened to a society where a child who gets into bad company, ends up being shot in the back of his head. "So who's taking responsibility for that?" Snell asked. He was also critical of the local media, saying that banner headlines and photos of crime scenes contributed to desensitising the public to the grimness and brutality of crime.
8 May 2014 Senior Counsel and State Prosecutor Dana Seetahal's suspected assassin has been fingered in a plot to kill a number of senior police officers. Well-placed intelligence sources yesterday revealed that Seetahal's suspected assassin received instructions from within prison walls to eliminate head of Central Division Snr Supt Johnny Abraham and others. On Tuesday, three men in a vehicle who are believed to be known associates of the suspected Seetahal assassin, were in the Caparo area seeking directions to Snr Superintendent Abraham's home. One of those asked, later contacted Snr Supt Abraham, to inform him that men in a vehicle were asking for his address. Abraham despatched officers from his Task Force to the area and the three men whose ages are 25, 26, and 27 were nabbed and taken to the Chaguanas Police Station where they remain detained.
8 May 2014 Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad says the root of all atrocities of which we are victims, including Dana Seetahal's gruesome murder, "lies in karma" and a "lack of spirituality." The Spiritual Head of SWAHA International (SWAHA); the second largest Hindu organisation in Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday declared that if the nation is "to get out of this abyss...there must be a return to spirituality." "It is boldly apparent that our country is paying the penalty for previous collective actions of individuals, groupings and the society as a whole. We are reaping the fruits of seeds planted in the past. The cumulative effect of previous misdemeanours are just beginning to bear fruits. What we are experiencing today could be just the tip of the iceberg," Persad claimed.
6 May 2014 The execution of Dana Seetahal, SC is a further reflection of the abyss the country has descended into, where public figures are now in danger of being assassinated. That was the opinion of the Movement of Social Justice in a press statement. The release said the murder "is not a random act of violence, but a targeted assassination of a very visible public figure." While assassinations were not new in T&T, MSJ noted that when gangs assassinate each other's members, the police label them as "gang-related" and for the most part no one had been brought to justice. The statement added: "The execution of an individual of Ms Seetahal's profile is a clear attack on the institutions of the State and public figures. We are now in a new situation where public officials are, like in Colombia and Mexico, subject to the danger of assassination."
4 May 2014 Police said Dana Seetahal was shot dead at about 12.05 am as she was driving north along Hamilton-Holder Street, Woodbrook when two vehicles pulled alongside her causing her to come to a stop near the Woodbrook Youth Club. One of the vehicles, a Nissan Wingroad, then drove ahead a short distance and pulled across the road, blocking it. The other vehicle, which was described as a panel van, pulled alongside and the occupants of that vehicle pulled out their firearms and opened fire on the SUV, police said. The two vehicles then sped off. Residents of the area, on hearing several loud explosions, contacted the police and emergency health services, who arrived to find the senior counsel dead, slumped over in the driver seat. Police are continuing investigations. No motive has emerged at this time.
3 May 2014 The washing ashore of another dead dolphin at one of the beaches in La Brea, affected by a massive oil spill last December, has left local scientists baffled as they hope tests provide answers on what killed the mammal. The dolphin, discovered at about 5 pm on Thursday on Point Sable Beach, La Brea, was the second to wash ashore in three weeks. The first dolphin was found in Union Village, La Brea while another was reportedly found in Los Iros in March. President of the La Brea Fisherfolk Alvin La Borde said: "The dolphins are dying because they are eating the mullet and other small fish. We are really anxious to know what is going on with our livelihood." Also washing ashore yesterday was a quantity of fish including mullet, cat fish and rocondo. Authorities had previously said a parasite had infected fish in the area. La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffery who was at Point Sable said: "I make a call for a foreign investigator because I no longer have faith in our local environmental agencies." He is convinced that Corexit 9500 is responsible for what is happening.
2 May 2014 A police constable and another man were arrested this morning in connection with murder and kidnapping of Freeport courier Devindar Siewdass. At around 4 a.m. a team of police officers of the Homicide Division (South) detained the man at his Couva home. He is said to have some four years service, and married with children. The second suspect, a labouer of New Grant, was also arrested. Police said the suspects are to be placed on identification parades this week.