EXPERTS LED PLOT TO KILL KAMLA
By NALINEE SEELAL Sunday, November 27 2011
The hunt is on for high-powered sniper rifles which were to be used in the assassination attempt of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and two members of her Cabinet.
The rifles were part of a cache of arms secretly brought into this country, and which were reportedly used in the target training practise at a secret camp in east Trinidad by three rogue ex-soldiers, who are now in custody assisting in the probe into the assassination attempt.
The three ex-soldiers, two of whom worked in the Defence Force and the other, a Coast Guardsman, were dishonourably discharged from the army and Coast Guard after they were found to be in possession of illegal arms, ammunition and drugs.
The three, who had over 15 years service, are all trained marksmen, and according to intelligence sources, were the actual trainers for the persons who were supposed to carry out the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister and two other Cabinet ministers.
One of the ex-soldiers detained has a farm in east Trinidad, and police believe that he was using it as a cover for the illegal trading of arms and ammunition. His farm is close to where a secret camp was found by law enforcement officers recently, and where several spent shells as well as paper targets were found.
That ex-soldier was up until yesterday in a cell at the Central Police Station in Port-of-Spain, where he is being heavily guarded. The ex-soldier has denied any involvement in an assassination plot.
Police have also detained a Trinidadian man, 30 years old, from the El Socorro, San Juan area who worked as a soldier in the US Army. That man was detained on Thursday and was up until yesterday being questioned in connection with the assassination plot.
Yesterday, Chief of Defence Staff, Brig Kenrick Maharaj, told Sunday Newsday that every effort is being made to verify if any law enforcement officer still on active duty is linked to this assassination attempt. He said intelligence officers are at this time trying to verify this.
“At this point in time we are engaged in a comprehensive investigation in both the police and Defence Force with respect to any other persons who may be involved in this assassination plot, or any other criminal activities,” Maharaj said in a telephone interview.
He commended officers who have been working round the clock to bring closure to this probe, and maintained that the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and other arms of the military remain committed to preserving law and order.
Thirteen persons have so far been detained in connection with the assassination plot and police hope to lay charges against some of the detained shortly. Apart from the men with local military backgrounds, four businessmen, an ex-soldier with the US Army, two police sergeants and three others have also been detained.
A secret camp which police believe was used to train persons involved in the assassination plot was discovered last week, and the country remained on high alert yesterday.
The assassination attempt was supposed to take place on Thursday following the Cabinet meeting, and the persons targeted were Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, and Minister of Housing and Environment Roodal Moonilal.
The plot was discovered two weeks ago by Special Branch officers, and the first person to be detained in connection with the plot was a central businessman last Monday.
Sunday Newsday was reliably informed yesterday that more persons allegedly involved in the assassination plot are to be detained under an authorisation order.
Yesterday, Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson told Sunday Newsday that the investigation into the assassination plot is well underway, and officers are working round the clock to bring closure to the investigation. He pointed out that police officers will be carrying out searches, roadblocks and exercises as part of the attempt to flush out criminal elements, not only linked to the assassination plot, but those involved in other criminal activities.
A security blanket has been placed over the residence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and new security arrangements made for her and other Cabinet colleagues in wake of the assassination plot.