Friday, February 23, 2018

Gun dealer's wife defends husband

THE WIFE of a central Trinidad licensed gun dealer testified in her husband's defence yesterday recounting the events of a police raid which she initially thought was a robbery in progress.

Attorney Nyree Alfonso, who now sits as chairman of State-owned commercial bank First Citizens, testified that she was verbally abused when she demanded to see police identification and objected to officers searching her vehicle without a warrant.

Alfonso was testifying in the Port of Spain High Court yesterday before Justice Hayden St Clair Douglas where her husband Towfeek Ali, owner of the Firearm Training Institute, is on trial on charges of being in possession of two guns without having a licence to carry them. Police claimed the illegal guns were found in Ali's right, front pants pocket.

As she was being led in evidence by defence attorney Sophia Chote, Alfonso said on December 13, 2004, at around 6 p.m., she arrived at her Lange Park, Chaguanas home, where she greeted her 20-month-old son.

Alfonso said she strapped her son in a carseat and then took her housekeeper to Longdenville, before she drove to her husband's businessplace at Montrose, Chaguanas.

As she arrived, and while still seated in her vehicle, Alfonso testified that she saw her husband in a "tight fitting Levi's pants, white T-shirt, bulletproof vest and holster".

She said he approached the car and they spoke.

She said her husband went to the passenger side of the car and spoke with his son, telling him the toy had arrived.

Alfonso said her husband then went for a box with the toy and placed it in the car trunk.

"I told him I will see him later and I started to drive off," Alfonso said.

"Suddenly a white 626 pulled in front me, blocking me completely. Three men jumped out, at least one was armed. I immediately thought it was a robbery taking place," Alfonso said.

Alfonso said about five to six men dressed in plainclothes surrounded the car, and "a tall Indian gentleman, whom I later learned was ASP Chandrabhan Maharaj, ordered me to get out the car in a very loud tone of voice.

"He also indicated he was a police officer. I saw no markings on the car and none of the persons were in uniform; they were all in plainclothes," Alfonso said.

Alfonso said she was verbally abused by Maharaj for refusing to exit the car without a warrant being produced.

The car was searched, Alfonso said, with her in it, since officers opened the car doors and searched the trunk.

The trial continues today with further cross-examination from State attorney Renuka Rambhajan. Appearing alongside Chote is Pamela Elder, SC.