NOT AN ABDUCTION: Attorney General of Barbados Dale Marshall is seen in this screen grab from a YouTube video as he made a statement in that country’s parliament on Tuesday, where he clarified the Bajan government’s position that Trini gun dealer Brent Thomas was not abducted in Barbados as claimed by a TT High Court judge. –
THE Barbadian Attorney General says gun dealer Brent Thomas was not ‘abducted’ from Barbados last year but he admits the officers had ‘fallen short of the law’ during an operation where Thomas was arrested and returned to Trinidad.
In a statement in the Barbadian Parliament yesterday, AG Dale Marshall detailed the involvement of the Barbados Police Service in Thomas’ case but rejected the ruling of a TT High Court judge finding that Thomas was ‘abducted.’
He was revealed for the first time how Caricom’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs) organised the Regional Security Services (RSS) aircraft to bring four police officers to Barbados from Trinidad and take them back with Thomas on October 5.
“The Trinidad and Tobago High Court has characterized what transpired in Barbados on October 5th last year in relation to Mr. Thomas as an “abduction”. That is unfortunate language,” Marshall said.
Sunday Newsday reported the involvement of an elite unit operating out of the Ministry of National Security in the capture and return of Thomas.
Marshall said he recognises the officers had “fallen short” of the law by acting without an extradition request.
“I, however, cannot associate myself with the description of the actions of the Barbados Police officers as an abduction or as has been elsewhere been described as a kidnapping.”
The description Marshall referred to was made by Justice Devindra Rampersad in a ruling on April 25. The judge presided over Thomas’ claim against the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions. In his lawsuit, Thomas said his constitutional rights were breached. He also sued over the criminal charges against him.
Justice Rampersad stayed the criminal charges against Thomas and found that the officers did not disclose the steps they took to bring him back to the country.
Rampersad condemned the police officers for their method of capturing and bringing Thomas back to TT. During the litigation, the State admitted that Thomas’ return to TT was unlawful.
Brent Thomas –
Yesterday, as he documented the police action that saw Thomas taken from his Barbadian hotel room to the Grantley Adams International Airport, Marshall denied any knowledge of the incident before last week. He said Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Mottley also did not know about the incident.
“Neither of us were consulted by anyone prior to or at the time when Mr. Thomas was taken from Barbados in October of 2022. The first time that either of us became aware of any of the events relating to Mr. Thomas was after the matter broke in the press in Trinidad just over a week ago. We simply had no knowledge nor involvement in this matter.”
Marshall said this was not unusual as these types of matters do not fall under his or the Prime Minister’s purview.
He said Impacs received the request from the Transnational Organised Crime Unit (TOCU) of the TTPS on October 4, 2022.
Impacs then contacted the Barbadian police and put them in contact with officers from Trinidad. Marshall said the Barbadian officers were told Thomas had eluded the TTPS and was believed to have travelled to Barbados and Guyana.
However, in Thomas’ affidavits in the High Court, he said provided a copy of an e-mail to the TTPS’ Legal Unit, informing that he would be travelling to seek medical attention overseas.
“The Barbados Police Service was initially requested to establish the whereabouts of Mr. Thomas in Barbados and to keep him under surveillance. Before taking any steps to render the requested assistance, the matter was discussed with the Acting Commissioner of Police who gave certain advice and instructions.”
Marshall described the action taken by police, which is at complete odds with Thomas’ sworn statement on the same incident.
Marshall said the police went to Thomas’ hotel room and knocked on his door.
“Mr. Thomas came to the door and the Senior Officer present identified himself and the other persons present as Police Officers and showed him his Police Certificate of Appointment. On entering the room, a search warrant was executed. Nothing of an illegal nature was found. The reports indicate that the Senior Police Officer then informed Mr. Thomas that there was a warrant of arrest for him in Trinidad and Tobago and that he was being arrested,” Marshall said.
“Mr. Thomas was then cautioned. Mr. Thomas then said “If Trinidad has a warrant for me, I will go back with you all”. Mr. Thomas was then arrested and informed of his right to an attorney.”
But Thomas’ statement from that incident describes a much different scene.
In his affidavit, Thomas said he was asleep around 3am when he heard banging on his hotel room door and shouts of “police, police.” He said he opened the door and saw a group of men dressed in black.
“These men entered into my room. They asked for a copy of my identification card and luggage which I showed to them. Thereafter, without being shown a warrant or being given any opportunity to make representation, despite numerous requests to do so, I was placed in handcuffs and dragged across the hotel floor to a waiting police vehicle which conveyed me to a police station,” Thomas said in his affidavit.
Thomas said he was kept in a cage in the back of a police van outside a police station until midday when he was taken to another police station and locked in a cell until 5 pm before being taken to the airport.
The State did not challenge Thomas’ account and conceded that his arrest in Barbados was illegal.
Yesterday Marshall said according to the report from Impacs, they made the request for use of the the Regional Security System (RSS) aircraft to bring four Trinidadian police officers to Barbados and transport them and Thomas back to Piarco on October 5.
In describing the actions of the Barbadian Police Service, Marshall said it was evident the officers were seeking to assist their Trinidadian counterparts with a “grave and important” issue, given the “scourge of firearm violence” that is a prominent feature throughout the Caribbean.
Marshall said there was no criminal intent in their actions.
“It is my view that they rendered that assistance without any mental element of criminality that would be associated with an abduction.”
He said if there is a ruling against the Barbadian police, the Government will abide.
But he said this was no grand scheme to deny Thomas of his rights.
“We reject fully any implication of involvement and collusion in this matter so as to deny any citizen of Caricom (or anywhere) their rights to due process.”
Marshall called for the full implementation of the Caricom Arrest Warrant Treaty, saying that would eliminate these types of incidents going forward.
During a press conference yesterday after returning from a weekend vacation in Barbados, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he met with Mottley while on the island.
“Our departments are looking at it. My understandings that she is the same position I am in and we wait what our departments come up with. Contrary to what you are being told in T&T X knows Y and A knows B, I am sure somewhere along the way we will find out what went on. If there are operational issues to be dealt we will deal with it. It is an evolving situation and we will see what comes up,” Rowley said.
The matter comes up for hearing before Justice Rampersad today (Wednesday) and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has been invited by Rampersad to clarify his statements he made on May 1 which stated criminals had friends in the Judiciary.