It’s been two months since Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon died while in police custody after being held in connection with the kidnapping and murder of court clerk Andrea Bharatt.
The two men were detained for questioning soon after Bharatt’s abduction.
Morris, who has been described as a known drug dealer from Tumpuna, Arima, was detained by officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) on January 31. His family has claimed he was beaten by police in their presence. He died on February 1 at the hospital.
Balcon, described as a mastermind in Bharatt’s kidnapping, had an extensive police record for sexual offences, drugs, firearms, robbery and larceny. Police claimed he tried to escape custody and was subdued. This led to his hospitalisation with severe injuries to his head and body. He was also paralysed. Balcon died on February 8.
Autopsies on both men revealed they died from blunt force trauma.
A police investigation involving SORT and Anti-Kidnapping Unit (AKU) officers has since been started.
The man overseeing that investigation, Deputy Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob, told Guardian Media it has reached the halfway point and ASPs Williams and Joseph, from the Northern Division, were spearheading it.
Jacob clarified that at this point, no officers had been detained, arrested or charged with any offence. So far, seven SORT officers and five AKU officers have been interviewed at the Maloney Police Station.
“Reports were taken from all of them. Now, we are going through the process of re-interviewing most of the persons who had given reports. At the end of that exercise we will return to the DPP for further guidance and we will know what direction we are going in with the investigation,” Jacob said.
“There are persons being interviewed at different levels, there are some who will be interviewed on their own because of the part they played and there are others who are permitted to have their attorneys present when the interview is being conducted.”
He said the interviews will continue into the weekend and are expected to be completed by Tuesday. Jacob said when that is completed, a file will be compiled to be taken to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He said at this point, there can be no determination on whether charges will be laid against any officer.
“At the end of it, all statements taken and all evidence will be co-mingled and dealt with, together with the DPP and a decision will be made - the point of an investigation is not just about charging persons but also exonerating persons if allegations are made, so we are doing the investigation based on that,” he said.
“If at the end of the day, in the wisdom and knowledge of the DPP and team, there are chances that person are to be charged, they will be. As any other role and route that we take when we are doing an investigation, is to say whether or not anyone will be charged, will be only at the conclusion of the investigation we will be able to say.”
He said the investigators are also assisting the Police Complaints Authority in their investigation into the deaths. Jacob said the investigation also has a different level, where officers can be disciplined within their own departments. He said in a week’s time, investigators will know whether any charges will be laid. Until then, the officers remain on active duty.