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Horrendous treatment by 'Grande' officers, says judge

Woman ordered to strip in road...

By Denyse Renne denyse.renne@trinidadexpress.com

High Court Judge Sebastian Ventour has described as horrendous and unbelievable the treatment meted out to a gardener at the hands of police officers attached to the Sangre Grande Police Station.

The woman—Clothilda Madoo—has sued the State, seeking compensation for an incident which occurred on January 4, 2001, along the Valencia Old Road.

In her suit, Madoo states she was made to strip naked and squat in the middle of the Old Valencia Road, in the presence of other police officers and motorists.

"I was 41 years old at the time of the incident and had nine children, of which four were girls, the last girl at the time being around seven years of age. I was embarrassed, disgraced and humiliated by this incident," Madoo testified.

When the matter was called yesterday, Assistant Solicitor General Neil Byam said the officers did, in fact, provide statements, but did not sign off on them.

Shaking his head, Ventour said: "Do you not think the police were playing the fool, since they gave statements and did not sign them?"

Byam said, in light of the circumstances, the State had no choice but to concede. Ventour then adjourned the matter to January, saying he will deliver his ruling.

Madoo was represented by attorneys Ravi Heffes-Doon and Kern Saney.

Madoo testified that on January 4, 2001, she and her husband, Christopher Sorzano, left home around 9.30 a.m to visit Sorzano's aunt. Madoo said while driving along the Valencia Old Road, they saw a roadblock and turned the vehicle around and went home.

"Police came to the house about ten minutes after we arrived home, by which time I was sitting in my gallery," she said.

Madoo said four officers arrived at her home and started searching without a warrant.

Madoo said she was then dragged from her gallery, handcuffed by the officers, cursed and locked in a police jeep.

Madoo said she was taken to the Valencia Old Road, and told to exit the jeep.

Upon complying, the handcuffs were taken off and a policewoman approached Madoo, saying, "You have to strip your clothes and you won't be the first and the last person to do that.''

"There were male officers right around where I was standing. I took off my bodice, skirt and short pants until I came down to my underwear, at which [time] I paused. The female officer told me I had to take that off, so I took off my panties," Madoo said.

Madoo said following the incident, she was told to dress. She was then driven to the Valencia Police Station, where she remained for half an hour and was subsequently released without being charged.

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