The T&T Police Service (TTPS) has been given additional time to further their investigation into a soldier held for questioning in relation to Monday’s fatal robbery at Pennywise Plaza in La Romain.
Delivering a decision late yesterday on a habeas corpus writ filed by the soldier, who can only be named if and when he is charged in relation to the incident, Justice Devindra Rampersad gave investigators until 2 pm today to conduct an identification parade with him.
Justice Rampersad is expected to reconsider the writ after investigators report back to him on their progress in a hearing scheduled for 2 pm today.
Yesterday’s hearing before Justice Rampersad began at 11.30 am but was delayed several times, as lawyers representing the TTPS requested time to file an affidavit in opposition to the writ.
In the document, obtained by Guardian Media, attorney Tsonda Gayle claimed that investigators needed time to tie up loose ends in the investigation.
She claimed that investigators consulted with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and were advised that they should conduct an identification parade with a man, who the soldier claimed he was on the way to meet when he was carjacked.
She claimed that it would take 12 hours for investigators to make preparations for the ID parade to ensure that it is fairly conducted.
Gayle claimed that investigators informed her that the soldier gave inconsistent versions of events relative to the crime, which involved high-powered firearms.
“The Applicant has been trained in the use of firearms and has been closely involved, if not directly involved with the use of the said illegal firearms,” Gayle said.
Gayle also stated that investigators were concerned that if released, the soldier may engage in the destruction of evidence and witness tampering.
She also claimed that he may flee the country based on the nature of the offences he is under investigation for.
In his court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, his lawyers, Criston J Williams, Jade Martinez and Blaine Sobrian, claimed that he was arrested on Monday after he went to the San Fernando Police Station to report that he had been carjacked by five armed men in La Romain.
His arrest was reportedly due to the fact that the vehicle was one of those used in the robbery of three security guards attached to Allied Security Services who were performing cash transit duties.
Two civilians have since been held by investigators in addition to the soldier.
In the court filings, the soldier’s lawyers are claiming that his continued detention for questioning in relation to the robbery is unlawful and unreasonable.
They claim that while there is no statutory provision for how long a person may be detained without being charged, 48 hours has been deemed reasonable in several landmark cases on the issue.
They also claim their client can be released into the custody of the T&T Regiment pending further investigations.
Attached to the writ was an affidavit from the soldier’s uncle, who is the owner of the Nissan X-Trail which was being used by his nephew.
He claimed that around 6 pm on Monday, he received a call from an officer of the Tableland Police Station, who told him his vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run accident.
He claimed that he called his nephew, who answered and claimed that he was robbed of the vehicle a short while earlier. He said he later learned that his nephew was held for questioning in relation to the robbery of the security guards.
The TTPS is also being represented by Keron Ramkhalawhan.