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Soldier detained after Pennywise robbery files habeas corpus: TTPS lawyers appear in court Friday to justify detention

In the court fil­ings, the sol­dier’s lawyers are claim­ing his con­tin­ued de­ten­tion for ques­tion­ing in re­la­tion to the rob­bery is un­law­ful and un­rea­son­able

Derek Achong

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice are ex­pect­ed to ap­pear be­fore a High Court Judge Fri­day morn­ing, to jus­ti­fy the con­tin­ued de­ten­tion of a sol­dier held for ques­tion­ing in re­la­tion to Mon­day’s fa­tal rob­bery at Pen­ny­wise Plaza in La Ro­main.

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Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands that lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the T&T De­fence Force (TTDF) pri­vate filed his writ of habeas cor­pus Thurs­day morn­ing and it was grant­ed by High Court Judge Devin­dra Ram­per­sad, who set the hear­ing for 11.30 am to de­cide on his con­tin­ued de­ten­tion by po­lice.

In his court fil­ings, ob­tained by Guardian Me­dia, his lawyers, Criston J Williams, Jade Mar­tinez and Blaine So­bri­an, claimed 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.

Se­cu­ri­ty guards Jef­fery Pe­ters and Jer­ry Stu­art were shot and killed in the rob­bery. Their col­league, Pe­o­la Bap­tiste, was al­so wound­ed in the at­tack and re­mains in the In­ten­sive Care Unit (ICU) at the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex in Mt Hope, as she suf­fered a stroke af­ter un­der­go­ing emer­gency surgery.

Four of the men al­leged­ly in­volved in the in­ci­dent were shot and killed by po­lice as they tried to evade cap­ture.

Two civil­ians have since been held by in­ves­ti­ga­tors, in ad­di­tion to the sol­dier.

Po­lice re­cov­ered all the cash stolen in the rob­bery and seized sev­er­al high-pow­ered firearms, in­clud­ing AR-15 as­sault ri­fles.

In the court fil­ings, the sol­dier’s lawyers are claim­ing his con­tin­ued de­ten­tion for ques­tion­ing in re­la­tion to the rob­bery is un­law­ful and un­rea­son­able.

They claim 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 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 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 of­fi­cers.

Re­spond­ing to the le­gal threat on Wednes­day, TTPS le­gal of­fi­cer Tson­ja Gayle said po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors need­ed time to com­plete their in­ves­ti­ga­tion. She al­so de­scribed the le­gal move as an abuse of process.

Alberto Ardila Olivares