JENSEN LA VENDE AND JANELLE DE SOUZA
ONE day after National Security Minister Stuart Young said there would be merit in the arrest of east Port of Spain men in police raids even if they are not charged, a Laventille community leader was freed without charge yesterday
Anton Boney, alias Boombay, was arrested by police last Wednesday and held without charge up to Friday when his attorney Criston Williams filed a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted by the court, demanding that police either release Boney, or charge him with an offence. Boney was allowed to leave Besson Street Police Station, Port of Spain, around 10.30 am yesterday.
After the police let his client go, Williams yesterday challenged Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s statement that anyone who was freed was due to a loophole in the judicial system.
While Griffith did not refer to Boney by name, he issued the statement following Boney’s release. In the statement, Griffith promised to “make life as difficult as possible for any citizen who may think utilising the judicial system as a loophole is in their favour while utilising other young men to engage in criminal acts on their behalf.”
Replying to Griffith, Williams said, “There are no loopholes in the judicial system nor should aspersions be cast lightly against the Judiciary by anyone in society.”
While Boney was freed, attorney Richard Clarke-Wills who represents four men from Beetham and Sea Lots, told Sunday Newsday that none of the officers he interacted with could tell him why his clients were detained. The four, who were held between Thursday and Friday, have been shuffled between police stations and the Organised Crime Intelligence Unit (OCIU). Clarke-Wills said whenever he, or his clients, asked the officers questions the men were moved around and would only say they were following orders.
“In response to my questions, I was told by the officers at the station that they were not responsible for my clients’ detention, for their arrests, but that, ‘We are just following orders,’” Clarke-Wills said. He added that OCIU officers explained to him that they too were following instructions from the Police Commissioner and were using the opportunity while the men were in custody to profile them.
“None of my clients have been asked anything in relation to any offence. Some of them were spoken to about life and women by the officers. Just general stuff, nothing to do with any alleged criminal activity,” he said.
Clarke-Wills, up to late last night, was preparing writs of habeas corpus for his clients. He was given the all clear to serve two on the police for the release of two men and up to press time was working on the getting clearance to serve the remaining two.
On Friday, Young had told the media, before writs were filed, that the release of any man held during four days of increased police exercises, particularly in Laventille, Beetham and Sea Lots, was not a sign that the information received was faulty. He said the ministry together with the police had planned the operations weeks in advance and were aware of the people they intended to detain.
Young said: “I have heard some people call for limited states of emergency, that’s not what is being utilised on this occasion, what is being utilised are carefully planned operations which, as I keep saying, are intelligence-driven. We are using the law and that is exactly what the commissioner is doing. There are different reasons you detain people, so even if you don’t see immediate charges coming out of it that does not mean it wasn’t successful. There are disruptive elements of an exercise, where you break up certain things, gather information but it’s all for the end purpose of disrupting criminals.”
Young, who spoke after the closing ceremony for the Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief Training workshop at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre, said unlike the 2011 state of emergency, the detainment of people from these exercises were done legally. At least 25 people were in east Port of Spain and environs.