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Sunday 21 July 2019
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Devant: ‘The police returned my phone damaged’

Former government minister Devant Maharaj.
Former government minister Devant Maharaj.

Former government minister Devant Maharaj says the police returned his phone with the screen damaged. He said the Cyber Crime Unit also claimed he gave them the phone without the SIM card. "I opened the phone in the presence of the police to show them that the SIM was in the phone," Maharaj said.

Maharaj said inspector Birch dropped off the phone damaged. "I am seeking compensation for my Samsung S7 Edge phone."

The phone was taken by the police in relation to a social media post Maharaj made that released information about bomb scares directed at Roman Catholic schools in Port of Spain.

Maharaj has been questioning the legality of the seizure and has since issued a pre-action protocol letter to justice of peace Marilyn Martin who signed the warrant that lead to the seizure of his cellphone.

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) said although Maharaj has political agendas, source protection is "fundamental to press freedom." MATT said they are "troubled that section 160(b) has been activated to force disclosure of sources."

Damage to Devant Maharaj's phone.

MATT said that the action taken by the TTPS "has the potential to criminalise the actions of all citizens, including journalists, who share information in a public space concerning threats to

public safety and exposes us all to similar coercive police action."

Maharaj said he is willing to go to court over the issue of the seizure of his private property. He indicated his suspicion of the Commissioner of Police who was very critical of Maharaj after he released information in relation to police officers wearing masks. "Shortly after he blasted me for making an issue involving him public, the police show up demanding I hand over every single electronic device I own."

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