hijacked: UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, at right in vehicle, views the area where her Toyota Prado, left, was discovered abandoned at the corner of Selwyn John Avenue and NUGFW Circular Drive, Valsayn, yesterday. The vehicle was stolen earlier in a carjacking incident in Tunapuna. —Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

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KAMLA'S NIECE ROBBED

...Thrown out of Prado with driver after manifesto launch

By Akile Simon

ONE hour after two armed gunmen hijacked the official vehicle belonging to United National Congress (UNC) Political Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and took it away from her driver and niece in Tunapuna yesterday, police recovered the SUV locked and abandoned at the NUGFW housing settlement in Valsayn.

The incident occurred around 2.20 p.m. at the corner of Orange Grove Trace and Streatham Lodge Road in Tunapuna. After the vehicle was recovered, Persad-Bissessar went to the scene and spoke with police officers about the incident.

The vehicle was found abandoned along NUGFW Circular by Snr Supt Joseph Edwards, Sgt Basdeo Sinanan, Cpls Ganga Singh, Sheldon Peterson and PC Aaron McLeoud, who went in search of the suspects. Up to late yesterday, Crime Scene Investigators from the Port of Spain CID were searching the $.5 million SUV at the Tunapuna Police Station for clues.

Persad-Bissessar's niece, Lisa Harry, and driver, Denzil Dukharan, were left tramautised after the incident, the Express understands.

At a press conference called late yesterday, Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert said the incident was not politically motivated and appeared to be a genuine robbery. He said shortly after the car was recovered, he spoke with Persad-Bissessar, who expressed her gratitude that the vehicle was recovered.

"It is one of those robberies where vehicles are taken away and those vehicles are taken away because they cannot be wired and that was one of the vehicles that was taken away and our deployment out there was sufficient enough to recover that vehicle very very quickly," Philbert said

He added, "We have had a number of these things and I do not have any information that it is political and I do not believe it is so in the way it was done, and the information we have even on terms of who the perpetrators might be. There is nothing suggesting to us that it is politically motivated."

He said the police remained certain the perpetrators will be apprehended because of the information they had received.

According to police, two men dressed in bullet-proof vests armed with hand guns and in a silver Almera motorcar, licence number pch 8663, stopped at the intersection of Orange Grove Trace and Streatham Lodge Road, and walked towards the SUV as it slowed down behind the parked Almera. The men pointed guns at the driver and Harry and ordered them out. One of the men jumped into the driver's seat and drove off with the SUV while the other followed in the Almera, police said.

Speaking at a political meeting last night, Persad-Bissessar revealed that the perpetrators stole confidential documents and wondered why they would do so.

"What is disturbing to me is the interpretation one can place upon the removal of the documents. There were a lot of other items in the vehicle, we had a lot of UNC buttons in boxes in the car, those remained. If this were random robbery, why would they take my documents, of what purpose would those documents be to them?" she asked.

"The prospect of this being a deliberate and planned event is an implication that is too dangerous to consider at this time, and when taken in the context, if you remember, that the PNM leader, Prime Minister of this country, he casually dismissed the recent threat on my life saying it was a hoax and that was even before the police conducted an investigation, and I believe then we all have reason to be very concerned."

She said the reaction from the PNM comes as no surprise.

"My opponents' attitude on matters of this kind are all too familiar, we can remember the reaction when he was given statistics on crime and he heartlessly commented that is 'collateral damage'."

–reporting by Anna Ramdass

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