The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has found no misconduct by any police officer involved in the search of mansions in Gulf View, La Romaine, last Friday.
In a brief statement yesterday, the PCA said: “A preliminary investigation pursuant to Section 30 of the PCA Act Chapter 15:05, has been completed and there have been no findings of misconduct on the part of any police officer. The information gathered during this preliminary investigation is strictly confidential.”
At least seven mansions were search by officers including the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), who spent hours searching properties for undisclosed reasons.
The owners say no search warrants were shown to anyone.
Meanwhile, National Security Minister Stuart Young said yesterday there was “very good reason” for the houses (at Gulf View) to be searched.
Speaking at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Young said: “The Commissioner of Police said on Sunday that at the right and appropriate time he would tell all about the circumstances surrounding the search of a number of homes in the South.
“What I would advise the public to do is to wait for the appropriate time that the Commissioner of Police can say to the public why those houses were searched.
“And I will say this: As Minister of National Security there was very good reason for those homes to be search and I am certain that when the commissioner thinks it is appropriate to tell the population why it happened, you all would then be in a position to understand why it is, it happened.”
Young also reiterated that there was no link between the search and the arrest of former attorney general Anand Ramlogan and former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen.
He said: “There was nothing that took place in the searching of those homes in South Trinidad that had anything to do with the current corruption charges you see before the court.
“So all of the attempts by the Opposition to say that there is some interrelation between the search of the houses in Gulf View and the charges being laid against Anand Ramlogan and Gerald Ramdeen, that is a complete lie and fabrication”.
Young said the Prime Minister was “100 per cent correct” when he said it was not in every circumstance that law enforcement required a search warrant.
He said if a law enforcement officer is out there doing his duty and there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is being committed and or about to be committed, he has the authority to enter into premises and to do what needed to be done to investigate the matter and to prevent the commission of a crime.
He said law enforcement could also ask any person to search their car or premises, and once the person consents, that search is conducted without a warrant. He said it all depended on the circumstances.
Young also dismissed suggestions from the Opposition that there were parallels between PNM Senator Lester Henry who pleaded guilty to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in February.
“From a common-sense point of view, I don’t see the comparison between someone who has been charged with driving under the influence and someone who has been charged with being in corrupt transactions, to a conspiracy to misappropriate...I don’t know what the sum is, but I know the legal fees amounted to $1.4 billion and there are allegations of payment of kickbacks etc...I don’t see the comparison between the two whatsoever,” he said.
Something is strange
In response to the PCA’s statement, Gulf View resident Ravi Dinanath said he was “concerned” about the basis on which the PCA came to a conclusion of no wrongdoing.
“I find the PCA’s statement strange since up to now they had not yet contacted any one of us residents whose homes were searched.
“On Friday, I tried contacting the PCA and I never got them on the phone. I would like to know on what they are basing their statement. I am concerned.
“They could have had a meeting with us residents to discuss the incident, and deal with us collectively or individually but they did not contact me at all,” said Dinanath.
“As a matter of fact, not even a local government councillor, member of parliament, mayor or anyone has contacted us since the incident. The only contact I have had was with the Professional Standards Bureau,” he told the Express.
Dinanath, a retiree who worked in the oil industry, has been outspoken about the search of his home and that of six others in Gulf View last Friday by the elite SORT team and other police units without being shown a warrant.
Member of Parliament for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal called on PCA director David West to indicate who the PCA spoke to during its investigation into the Gulf View searches.
Moonilal said the PCA should reopen its investigations.
“Additionally, the PCA cannot undertake any serious investigation without securing statements from police officers and civilians,” said Moonilal.