4 SORT officers in custody, 20 questioned in deaths of Andrea Bharatt murder suspects

A soldier waits to join the police search for kidnap victim Andrea Bharatt in Sangre Grande. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -
A soldier waits to join the police search for kidnap victim Andrea Bharatt in Sangre Grande. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB -

FOUR officers assigned to the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) are in police custody as part of an ongoing investigation into the deaths of murder suspects Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon.
The two men died days after they were held by SORT for questioning in the murder of 23-year-old court clerk Andrea Bharatt in February.

The four officers were detained on Thursday and are being held at the Maloney station.
They were among 20 members of the protective services interviewed by investigators of the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB). Fourteen are police and the others are members of the Defence Force.

Andrea Bharatt -

Insp Mark Hernandez, head of SORT, told Newsday on Thursday evening he and his officers were co-operating with investigators. Hernandez has been shortlisted for one of three posts for deputy commissioner of police (DCP), which is to be debated in Parliament.
On Wednesday, several officers gave statements.
Acting DCP Mc Donald Jacob, who is also nominated to be confirmed, is in charge of the PSB investigation, which is being led by ASP Williams. The Homicide Bureau and Research and Analytical Unit are assisting the PSB.

Staff of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have had two meetings with investigators and a third one is expected to be held, given that four officers were detained.
Among the offences being looked into are assault and murder.

Police said more officers are expected to be interviewed on Friday.
During the investigation, cellphones were seized from officers and some were returned.
Morris and Balcon were arrested on January 30 in relation to the kidnapping of Bharatt, who was last seen alive getting into a car she thought was a licensed taxi in Arima on January 29. Her body was found on February 4 at the Heights of Aripo.
Morris died on February 1 and Balcon died eight days later.

Autopsies showed the men died of blunt force trauma. Police said the men had to be subdued, claiming they assaulting officers during their arrests.

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