Fifty-nine of the 101 people arrested in East Port of Spain from last Thursday to Sunday have been freed without being charged.
Among them are two high-profile alleged gang members—Anthon Boney and Cedric “Burkey” Burke.
In a show of force on Sunday, over 300 lawmen swooped down in the East Port of Spain area and arrested 89 people in the aftermath of four murders in the area mere days before.
More than half of them were back out on the streets yesterday, police said.
According to police reports, of the 89, 47 were released and 26 appeared in court yesterday. Of that 26, 22 were brought to court on outstanding warrants, three on narcotics and one for illegally occupying a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment.
The remaining 16 are still in police custody, 13 are to be placed on identification parades today for robberies and shootings while three are being questioned for murder.
The three on narcotics charges are Merlin Roberts, Ria Durity and Alana Villafana.
Roberts was placed on a bond for two years and in default would face 30 days hard labour or a $1,200 fine.
Roberts had 5.8 grammes of marijuana. Durity had one gramme of marijuana and was ordered to serve 80 hours of community service. For failure to do so, she would be fined $500 or spend 30 days in prison.
Villafana was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service for the 17 grammes of marijuana she had. Villafana would spend six months in jail should she fail to complete the community service or be fined $700.
The 89 were held days after two teenage cousins were shot dead on Duncan Street, Port of Spain. Since then there has been a heavy police and army presence in the area.
The cousins, Nyam Antoine and Rasheeda Gomez, were both killed by gunmen mere hours apart on August 14. Gomez was pregnant.
Antoine, 16, who suffered from sickle-cell anaemia, was dragged from his grandmother’s Duncan Street apartment and fatally shot 34 times. He was buried yesterday.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar visited the area and told residents a police/army post would be placed in the area to protect the residents from the gunmen who seek to throw them out of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartments.
Following the killing, some 12 men were arrested. They were said to be gang members and or leaders and were allegedly responsible for the cousins’ deaths as warring gangs fought to be in control of State contracts.
By 7 a.m. yesterday, all 12 were freed.
Defence attorney Criston Williams yesterday filed a writ of habeas corpus to have his client, Anthon Boney, who was arrested with the lot, brought to court for the State to show why he had been detained.
Williams was successful in getting the police to release his client after he wrote to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan informing them that they must come to court (yesterday) to state why his client was being held.
According to the letter, (Criston) Williams stated: “Pursuant to Section 13 (1) of the Anti Gang Act, I hereby demand the immediate release of Mr Boney who has been detained for a period exceeding 72 hours.
“To date, my client has not been charged and has not been informed of any steps that have been taken by the State to lawfully continue his detention.
“I have been instructed that should my client not be released within one hour of receipt of this correspondence I have advised my client to commence ex parte proceedings to challenge the actions of the State and to compel the State to produce the body of my client to the High Court and there state the reasons for his continued detention.
“Should you fail so to do by 12 p.m. today (yesterday) I shall petition the Registrar of the High Court to convene a sitting of the emergency judge on duty and seek an order compelling you to perform your function.”
The habeas corpus was sent to the commissioner on Sunday night, the Express was informed, and by 7 a.m. yesterday Boney, the last to be released, was allowed to walk out of the Belmont Police Station.