Sunday, January 21, 2018

Airport heist suspect in custody: Judge rejects freedom bid

A HIGH Court judge has refused to order the release of a man who was detained by police for questioning in connection with the $5.5 million heist at the Piarco International Airport two weeks ago.

In dismissing the habeas corpus application at the San Fernando High Court on Friday morning, Justice Frank Seepersad said it was his opinion after listening to the evidence during the application that the investigating officer was acting with due diligence. Additionally, the judge said if the suspect was to be released, there is the possibility that he may flee the jurisdiction.

The 32-year-old man and a woman were detained by officers at his Londenville, Chaguanas, home just one day after men in camouflage clothing and armed with guns, held up security officers at the airport and made off with the money belonging to First Citizens Bank that was destined for Tobago. He was taken into custody after officers found $250,000 in the house for which he could not give a proper account.

During the hearing, the investigating officer testified that he was awaiting confirmation from the Central Bank as to whether the money formed part of the stolen loot. In addition to that, the officer said he was also awaiting a cyber crime analysis report on relation to information stored in the applicant's cell phone. Those pieces of information were expected to be available by yesterday evening, the officer said.

But even though the judge found that the officers were justified in their continued detention of the suspect, Seepersad ordered that he be released by 10 a.m. on Sunday should no charges be laid.

“The matter under investigation is unique and given the location at which the robbery occurred and the nature of same, there are issues of national security that arise. It cannot be said that the applicants detention has been arbitrary or that there is no evidence to justify the current investigation. The court is also the of the view that the investigating officer has establish that he is acting with due diligence and there is merit having regard to the quantum,” said the judge.

Attorney Kiev Chesney appeared for the applicant while the Police Commissioner was represented by attorney Keisha Prosper.