SIX police officers, positively identified for allegedly setting fire to a teenager being held at Princes Town Police Station, were released from custody on Saturday pending further investigations.
Five officers were identified in parades held on Friday and Saturday at Barataria Police Station, with the parades conducted by an acting inspector.
Another officer was identified through confrontations, where the suspects were taken to a public place and the victim asked to point them out.
The Express was told that the confrontations took place at a popular fast-food outlet in Port of Spain.
The officers were detained on Thursday when they reported to the Professional Standards Bureau, of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), with their attorneys after they received telephone messages.
The alleged victim, 18-year-old Jamerson John, and his attorney, Petronilla Basdeo, were present at the identification parades.
Basdeo yesterday sent a letter to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) expressing concern for her client’s safety.
A paragraph in the letter read: “With the release of these officers, my client is very fearful for his safety and for the safety of his family. My client has indicated that your authority is the only institution that has inspired some level of confidence and trust since this entire incident. I am, therefore, once again seeking your assistance to ensure that the integrity of the investigation is not compromised and that justice is served.”
John claimed that on Christmas Eve last year, police officers stripped him to his underpants, doused him with methylated spirits and set him alight after he refused to confess to robbing two people and breaking into a house near his Moruga home.
John was hospitalised for burns to his torso, leg and genital area.
The Express was told that analysis at the Forensic Science Centre in Federation Park on John’s clothing showed there was no evidence of chemicals or burning.
The PCA called for a copy of the police investigation file, including reports on John’s clothing and the scented candles.
The Authority submitted a file to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard.
In April, investigators of the Professional Standards Bureau received instructions from Gaspard to place the officers on identification parades.
What the police say happened
Police have disputed the allegation, saying John had used methylated spirits on a wound and spilled the liquid on his clothing before he was arrested by police.
Officers said when John was taken into custody, he walked past scented candles at Princes Town Police Station and his clothes caught afire.