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Saturday 23 March 2019
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2 Chinese men charged; four in immigration custody

TWO of the Chinese men who have been in custody since February 5, have been charged by police while four are in the custody of immigration officials.

At a hearing of habeas corpus applications for three more Chinese men who had been in police custody for 13 days without charge, this morning. Justice Kevin Ramcharan was told two have been charged while the third was to be placed in the custody of the Immigration Division for several breaches.

They were part of a group of 19 – 15 Chinese and four Venezuelan men – arrested during police raids between February 5 and 6 in connection with the discovery of 19 Venezuelans – three teenage girls and 16 women, between the ages of 15 and 19. They were allegedly held captive for the purpose of sex trafficking.

Newsday understands that the two were charged with assembling for the purpose of gambling and possession of ammunition.

Ramcharan, in giving permission to the men’s attorneys Farid Scoon and Peter Taylor to withdraw their applications for the three, said while he was always suspicious when detained people are charged after filing court actions, in this case it appeared, based on the evidence of the police, to have been justified.

He also said the men’s applications were also justified as they had been in custody for over 14 days.

Appearing for the police were attorneys Ravi Rajcoomar, Netram Kowlessar, Christian Chandler and Nadine Nabbie.

On Tuesday, Justice David Harris ordered the immediate release of three Asians after the police failed to justify the men’s lengthy detention.

However, immigration officers immediately took the men into their custody as they said their investigations showed the men had breached several immigration laws, including overstaying their time in Trinidad.

Last week, police were denied twice by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in their attempt to legally retain an estimated $1.5 million believed to be part of a money laundering scheme associated with the alleged sex ring.

Officers assigned to the Finance Intelligence Bureau (FIB) first attempted to apply to a Port of Spain magistrate to have the money seized on February 8.

However, they arrived at the court too late and they were advised to return. The officers had 96 hours to apply to have the money seized, according to section 38 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, but did not. The police discovered the cash during the raids and it remains in their possession while the investigation continues.

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