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Trinidad : New trend in kidnappings

By Exilus Deceyon

Port of Spain, 25 Dec. 05 [AlterPresse] --- Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Oswyn Allard, whose portfolio includes bringing kidnappers to heel, has stressed that he is just as upset as the national community that criminals continue to strike and make ransom demands on victims’ families.

Allard, who is in charge of Crime and Operations, also attached a level of blame to the media for not giving the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS), which is under his command, its just due for work accomplished.

For the festive Christmas season, he urged nationals to be vigilant and careful.

His Christmas Eve comments came as the scourge of kidnapping, which in recent times has seen Trinidad and Tobago running a close second to the world’s leading cocaine haven, Colombia, for the rate of abductions for ransom, has taken a new twist.

Despite the Government and Opposition making an historic legislative accommodation on bail provisions to try and stem the kidnapping tide, the criminals continue to rule the roost.

Now, according to legal sources, the families of kidnap victims are being warned not to inform the AKS of the crime unless they want the ransom demand to be at least doubled.

And the Sunday AlterPresse was reliably informed that terrified family members are complying with instructions to the letter, keeping the AKS officers in the dark when their relatives are kidnapped.

Sources noted that between the night-time December 17 kidnapping of 19-year-old Rajiv Changoor and the early morning December 23 snatching of restaurateur, 55-year-old Basdeo Sharma, the son of a prominent attorney was abducted.

“The father was contacted and asked to pay a ransom, as well as warned not to alert the AKS or the ransom would be upped.

“He was told the AKS would ask him how much he could afford to pay and whatever figure he mentioned, would be added on to the ransom.

“The father heeded the warning, dropped of the ransom at the pick-up point described by the kidnappers and, just like clockwork, the child was back in his arms, safe and sound.

“It is a new twist to kidnapping in T&T and does not augur well for the well-to-do. The kidnappers have fine-tuned their operations, despite the passage of the draconian Bail Bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate,” the source added.

Questioned about the reported new twist to kidnapping, Allard said as far as he knew, it was standard procedure for kidnappers to warn families of victims not to alert the police.

“That has always been the case,” Allard asserted, adding that the media had not been kind to the way the AKS, headed since April by Asst Supt David Nedd, approached kidnapping.

“In almost every instance the media has not supported us,” he accused.

In respect of the continued spate of kidnappings, Allard commented: “I am upset like the national community, and I am prepared to use all the energy and all the forces, and all the intelligence available to stop kidnapping.”

He added: “Rest assured, I remain loyal to law enforcement in this country.”

In the Senate last week, Allard’s lengthy acting stint was highlighted by United National Congress (UNC) Senator Wade Mark, who asked why Prime Minister Patrick Manning was taking so long to exercise his prerogative to confirm Allard’s appointment.

On December 24, 2005, Allard welcomed Mark’s support, but stressed that it was Manning’s decision alone to make, and he would stand by it.

Allard, who has been in the Police Service for 40 years, since he was 18, and is now two years away from retirement, declared: “It is the prerogative of the Prime Minister and I will accept any decision fairly made by the Prime Minister.” [ed gp apr 25/12/2005 21:15]