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Carnival detainees start legal action against State

Published: 
Sunday, March 18, 2018

Legal action has been filed against the State and more is coming from attorneys for several people detained by police during the Carnival threat alert.

By tomorrow, at least three of some 13 people detained and released in the Carnival searches would have issued legal letters to the State.

On February 8, police revealed they had credible information concerning a plot to disrupt the Carnival.

A total of 15 people were detained in police searches from El Socorro/Aranguez, Malabar, and other parts of the East-West Corridor to central and south Trinidad. Exercises were also done in Tobago where one person (from Trinidad) was held. Thirteen of the 15 were released after seven days without being charged.

Two—a couple—were charged with firearm component possession. The man was not given bail, but the woman was. They reappeared in court last Friday.

Where other detainees are concerned, attorney Wayne Sturge said he issued a pre-action protocol letter to the State last week on behalf of Clint Rivers.

Rivers, a customs officer of Malabar, is seeking compensation for false imprisonment. Rivers is currently on suspension from Customs, Sturge confirmed. Rivers is a Muslim, he added.

Sturge said "The basis of Rivers’s action is that security forces told him he was never a suspect. Therefore there was no basis for detaining him. They just wanted information and there was no information.

"He was allegedly told he was held as a person of interest after a television story which claimed he didn’t return from Hajj in 2016 and had 'gone to fight with the Islamic State (ISIS)'.”

Sturge confirmed Rivers attended Hajj, but returned home. "In fact, there's a video of him returning home with the group—which went to Hajj—which we wrote to the TV station about."

Sturge said Rivers’ computers and phone were seized by police. Following receipt of the letter, the State has 28 days to respond.

Sturge is also representing the couple who appeared in court on alleged gun components’ possession.

AG to get legal letter tomorrow

Attorney Criston Williams also said yesterday, legal action letters on behalf of his clients—Kirson Mohammed of San Juan and Imam Edoo Mohammed of Enterprise, are being delivered to the Attorney General’s office tomorrow.

Both Mohammeds were detained after February 8.

Williams said Kirson Mohammed is suing for false imprisonment, defamation as well as loss of technological equipment, belonging not only to him but his clients.

Williams said Mohammed owns and operates an Information Technology (IT) equipment outlet. He said police seized items from the store including laptops belonging to Mohammed’s clients and the Ipads of Mohammed’s children.

Williams said Mohammed was told the items were taken to the Police Cybercrime unit, but the items were not returned to him. Williams said there was particular concern since his clients' property was seized, not his alone.

Williams said Edoo Mohammed is also claiming damages for false imprisonment.

Williams said Mohammed was picked up and questioned by police two weeks before the Carnival threat was revealed on February 8.

At that time of the first detention, Mohammed was questioned about a plot that could disrupt Carnival.

Williams said when Mohammed was detained a second time–after the threat revelation—he was asked the same questions by police which he had been asked the first time. Mohammed has also claimed he was followed for two weeks after the first detention.

The family of El Socorro based Tariq Mohammed–the first person to be detained on February 8–are also preparing legal action against the State.

Mohammed’s father, Shamoon, said the family and others in the immediate vicinity had been traumatised by the way the search-and-enter exercises were conducted. They said people sustained injuries and homes were damaged.

The entire family—including the families of three sons—which was affected is being represented in Tariq's legal action.

Shamoon Mohammed said the family also took the issue to the Police Complaints Authority and another of his sons gave interviews to the PCA last Friday.

When detainees were released, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had said he was prepared for any legal action that could arise. Yesterday police said investigation into the threat was an ongoing matter.

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