ALTHOUGH there have been reports of ammunition found at murder scenes with the markings “TTR” which are issued by the defence force, senior defence force members told a joint select committee (JSC) of Parliament on Wednesday that all its ammunition was accounted for.
The meeting of the Committee on National Security was not broadcast live on the Parliament Channel on Wednesday but was recorded and will be uploaded on Monday afternoon, Newsday was told.
Among those present were Chief of Defence Staff Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel, Wing Commander in charge of the Air Guard Kemba Protain, Lt Commander Akenton Isaac and Lieutenant Colonel Sheldon Ramanan.
Speaking to Newsday on Friday, JSC member UNC senator Jayanti Lutchmedial said that, at Wednesday’s meeting, Ramanan said that, based on an internal audit, the Defence Force was able to account for all of its ammunition. He said the audit was 95 per cent complete at the time.
She said Ramnan informed the JSC that he was appointed by Daniel, as Inspector General of the Defence Force, to conduct a comprehensive arms and ammunition audit.
The audit began in December last year and is expected to be fully completed by the end of this month.
“I was surprised to hear the answers coming from the Inspector General that the audit was 95 per cent completed and all ammo was accounted for.
“Even more surprising, is the fact that the Defence Force members appearing before the committee could not say what the position was with respect to forensic examination of the spent shells.
“One would have thought an important matter like this would have seen greater collaboration between police and the Defence Force.
“If the Defence Force is saying that they (sic) can account for their ammo, but police are saying spent shells are found with markings at crime scenes, then something is certainly rotten in the state of TT.”
In December last year National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said he was concerned that regiment-issued ammunition casings were found at murder scenes.
Without giving details, he said measures were introduced to prevent a trend from developing.
He added that the finding of regiment-issued spent shells at crime scenes predated the implementation of the new measures.
He said then: “Many months ago, I engaged the leadership of the Defence Force on those issues and action has been taken to be more restrictive in the management of its stock.
“I am satisfied, based on feedback I received with the Chief of Defence Staff who leads the defence force, that action has been taken and it is possible that what you have seen on the crime scene would have been from some history before recent developments.”
Independent Senator Paul Richards, also speaking to Newsday on Friday, said Ramanan recounted that the Defence Force conducted daily, weekly and monthly checks to ensure that no ammunition went missing.
Richards added that Ramanan assured the committe that the Defence Force would be co-operating with the police in any investigation arising out of the discovery of regiment-issued bullets found at crime scenes.
Richards said one of the things he raised with the regiment officers was the issue of illegal quarrying, which Daniel explained was complex as no one was caught in the act.
And while equipment was being seized, the owners of the illegal quarries were not being apprehended.
Newsday was informed that invitations were issued for officials of the Judiciary, Director of Public Prosecutions office and the Attorney General’s office to attend the next sitting of the Committee on National Security, which will be held on March 29.