After spending about 63 hours in custody, all 18 persons including two women who were detained on Tuesday night following a police exercise at a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen mosque in Carapo have been released.
Police sources told the Express yesterday that investigators were instructed by their seniors to release all detained persons as the 72-hour period given to them under Section 13 of the Anti Gang Act of 2011 was almost up.
Police said 33-year-old Hamid Ali, the elder brother of LifeSport coordinator Rajaee Ali, was the first person to be released shortly before midnight yesterday. The remaining 17 persons, including 28-year-old Rajaee Ali, were then released at about 9 a.m.
Sources told Express that as the detained persons were leaving, some officers apologised to a group of the detainees, emphasising that the group was not being victimised because of their religious beliefs, but they were detained as a result of previous investigations and instructions were given from “higher ups” to keep the men and women for questioning under the Anti-Gang Act.
Sources also said that when Rajaee Ali left the Arima Police Station, he was asked by police if he needed to call anyone to get him or hire a taxi, but Ali simply told the officers that he would walk, before exiting the building.
Ali was next seen at the Regius Chambers along Richmond Street, Port of Spain, flanked by his brother Hamid, as well as three of the men who had been detained. The group had gathered to hold a press conference in the presence of their attorneys Criston J Williams and Darryl Worrell.
Williams questioned why his clients had been repeatedly detained over the past few months without the grounds for their detention being given. He referred to letters dated May 13, July 9, and July 10, in which he had written to the office of the Commissioner of Police asking, under the relevant legislation, why his clients had been detained, and to date, he had yet to receive any official response.
“So if they are being detained and not for any particular grounds, why are they being targeted? I don’t know if it’s because someone has some sort of obsession with them. But if normal citizens of this country were placed in their positions, how would one feel?” Williams asked.
The attorney also noted that no one other than Rajaee Ali was informed of why they had been detained during their detention at the police station.