A former soldier who is alleged to have been part of a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was part of a meeting where discussions focused on destabilising the country, National Security Minister Jack Warner has said.
Warner said this was why there was a need for the army to work with the police. He was speaking on the Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013 at the Parliament sitting last Friday at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
Warner said in February he received two notes in his mailbox.
They described two meetings "held by PNM agents"—one in Maraval, under the chairmanship of a former minister of government, and the other in St Joseph, under the chairmanship of a former pilot. Warner later disclosed the St Joseph meeting took place at the home of George Bell and a "top-class lawyer".
Warner said he was not concerned about the Maraval meeting where high-level politicians, a mayor and failed ministers attended.
"What worries me is the report of the meeting at Maracas, St Joseph, and that is why I am saying in the Parliament we need more police and soldiers and army joint patrols," said Warner.
"At the meeting of the 15 persons who were present, you had one fella called Soldier Barry. Who is Soldier Barry? He was one of 16 persons in an alleged plot to kill the Prime Minister," said Warner.
He continued: "At that meeting they had to, of course, take all the murders that take place in the country, especially the gory ones, put ads and so on, make CDs and send it out to people and so and also to the PM overseas."
Warner raised concerns over the soldier's intent. "This Soldier Barry had been incarcerated for about eight years on trial for several murders but at the meeting at which he was present... he (Barry) says it's time to destabilise the country and they discussed ways and means of doing so, and one or two asked where the money coming from and they identified the money, Mr Speaker," he said.
This was why the Police Service needed to be strengthened.
Warner further justified giving soldiers precept powers, saying the joint patrols in Laventille had resulted in no murders in five days.
Warner said Deputy Commissioner of Police Mervyn Richardson reported there were no murders in Laventille or other divisions. "When you contain the murders in one hotspot, it has a spin-off effect in other areas, as advised to us by members in the Police Service," he said, adding that 41 per cent of the murders "come from one particular area".
The success of no murders, he said, came about because "police and army together in joint patrols in Laventille, for the past five days, 400 of them, Mr Speaker, and for how long is necessary have been working there day and night".
Warner questioned where was the lack or morale in this move.
"If they (Opposition members) go there, Mr Speaker, they will see people are saying, 'bring the soldiers'," he said.
"The police are also asking for help from the soldiers but the politicians for reasons known best to them, don't want the soldiers," he added. Warner said soldiers were considered to be people who "shoot to kill".
"For eight years they (Opposition) used the army in ways unimaginable, in fact Mr Speaker, they even used something called the New Flying Squad as well," said Warner.
There were more murders under the People's National Movement than there were under the People's Partnership Government, he added.