T&T moves to tighten bail for alleged gangsters

Wants accused held for at least 120 days before release

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service said Monday there are more than “50 shooters” linked to various gangs here as it urged support for the Bail Amendment Bill, which it described as a critical tool in dealing with the crime situation in the country.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said that the shooters were most “in taking out hits on opposing gang members.

“This has proven to be the root cause of a significant number of homicides in this country, via gang activity. These individuals walk around with their firearms, knowing quite well that if held it is usually a simple case of going to court next day, acquiring bail, and being issued with another firearm to carry out their trade, which involves killing persons in cold blood.”

Griffith said that the Bail Amendment Bill is a critical tool to providing both a strong deterrent as well as ensuring that if and when such criminal elements are held, they can remain where they belong.

He said in the last decade, over 75 per cent of homicides were carried out by persons with illegal firearms in this country, and most by a select few.

“Presently, anyone who is apprehended with a firearm could be released on bail and be free to possibly assassinate the same person who was the informant that caused their initial arrest. “

The police said that this improper system has proven to be a liability in getting law abiding citizens to come forward and pinpoint possible shooters with illegal weapons and Griffith believes that someone who has been arrested for possession of an illegal firearm must not be granted bail.

Further, he argued that possession of an illegal firearm is enough for someone to lose their freedom and have bail restricted for 120 days.

Griffith said this approach takes the guns away from criminals and gets potential “cold-blooded murderers”, off the streets.

He said that those who speak about Constitutional rights being infringed should also be cognisant of the right to life which is, in fact, the ultimate Constitutional right of all citizens.

“This right is then taken away by cold-blooded criminal elements, who are armed with the knowledge that they can walk around with a weapon and if arrested, they can be released within 24 hours, if the amendment to this Bill is not granted.”

Griffith said that the amendments to this Bill would ensure that a criminal is incarcerated for 120 days, allowing victims to come forward, with the knowledge and the sense of safety and protection that the perpetrator is behind bars, which can also reduce the opportunity for reprisal.

“If someone is in possession of a firearm, it means that they have the intent to kill an innocent person in cold blood. The intent must be seen as being as dangerous as the action. A criminal with an illegal firearm has the capacity and capability to kill dozens of persons in cold blood with just one magazine. Such individuals should not be incarcerated only when they have committed the act.

“When this law was enforced a few years ago, it proved to be instrumental in reducing crime, and the commissioner believes that such a law, when reinforced, can do so again,” the top cop added.

The legislation needs the support of three fifth of all members of Parliament to be passed.

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