MINISTER of National Security Gary Griffith has lashed out at retired Major General Ralph Brown over a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Express, in which Brown labelled patrols by soldiers in Laventille as illegal.
In the letter, Brown called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, as head of the National Security Council, to bring a halt to the patrols “and thrash out this matter once and for all” with acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj over who exactly ordered the patrols.
Brown wrote: “The acting Commissioner has ordered his officers to arrest and charge any soldier found committing an offence, this in response to questions posed to him by journalists about the legality of soldiers patrolling Laventille without policemen in attendance.
“The acting Commissioner went further to state that neither he nor the Chief of Defence Staff has ordered the patrols which are being undertaken by the soldiers. If the soldiers are in fact patrolling, it would be interesting to know who ordered the patrols.
“It follows that if the acting Commissioner did not request the patrols and the Chief of Defence Staff did not order them, then the patrols are in fact illegal under the law, and as the acting Commissioner has stated, they should be arrested. This is a recipe for chaos and/or confrontation between police and soldiers, something we have worked hard over the years at ‘arresting’.”
But in response to the letter yesterday, Griffith, in a telephone interview, criticised Brown over the statement, saying both Williams and Maharaj have confirmed that the soldiers were authorised to carry out the operation, but what was not authorised were the independent aspects of the patrols.
“It appears that General Brown has a problem with understanding the difference between an operation and an independent patrol,” said Griffith.
He said as far as the patrols go, there was nothing illegal about them and as such the statement made by Brown, without any knowledge of what was taking place, was irresponsibility to the highest degree.
“Thankfully, he does not hold any position of authority because if he did then he would have turned this situation into one big mess,” said Griffith.