Hardath Solomon, the man charged with a $3 million robbery of First Citizens Bank last September, is well known the police.
He was a close associate to slain gang leader, Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis and had been charged with kidnapping, among others, in the past.
He was denied bail on Wednesday on the bank robbery charge as police said he has some 20 cases pending.
Among the cases for which he was charged, was the kidnapping of a Central businessman, Kalipersad Ravi Maharaj, who was rescued by the police. Solomon was charged with this kidnapping and on the day the trial was due to begin, Ravi was kidnapped again and has not been seen again.
It all started on September 5, 2002. Ravi was the owner of Ramo’s Auto Garage in Longdenville. He was about to close up his business place around 5 pm.
An Almera motor car pulled up and two men alighted. The men, armed with guns and wearing masks, jumped out and they bundled Ravi into the car where a third man sat in the driver’s seat.
A $1 million ransom was demanded. Acting on a tip-off, officers of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad (AKS) raided a house at Fireburn Road, Freeport, on September 10, 2002. There, they found Ravi tied up and one man guarding him. Ravi was kept in horrible conditions and he suffered immensely. He was hardly fed and he was tortured by his captors.
Police rescued Ravi and took him for medical attention. No one could say for sure if a ransom was paid, but police were able to rescue the kidnap victim and return him to his family.
Arising out of their investigations, police later charged two men, Hardath Solomon and Errol Williams, for kidnapping.
After he gave evidence, Ravi left the country. At the end of the preliminary inquiry, Solomon and Williams were committed to stand trial and they were remanded to prison.
The trial was then fixed for March, 2005, before Justice Herbert Volney in the Port-of-Spain High Court. Ravi returned to the country to give evidence. By that time, Solomon and Williams had been granted bail and came to court on their own.
But on March 17, 2005, bad luck struck again. Ravi was abducted for a second time. Ravi, age 31, was entering his home at Lange Park, Chaguanas, with his wife, Fariza and their 18-month-old son. Ravi was snatched by a group of men and bundled into a car. The kidnappers also snatched his wife’s purse before making their escape.
This time, no ransom demand was made. Ravi’s family waited in hope for that phone call demanding a ransom. The police searched everywhere, especially in central Trinidad, but Ravi was not found.
According to investigators, Ravi vanished without a trace.
In April 2005, when the case was called, Volney made an impassioned plea to the kidnappers to release Ravi.
Crime Stoppers offered a $250,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of anyone responsible for Ravi’s kidnapping. But all that fell on deaf ears. No one responded and Ravi, like many other people in this country, just disappeared.
Without Ravi to give evidence, the prosecution could not only rely on the deposition to make out a case against the two accused. The case fell apart and Solomon and Williams walked free.
But the Maharaj family lived in hope that Ravi would be freed, but he never was. His father, Ramnarine, never gave up. Ramnarine took control of the business, Ramo’s Auto Garage. He also managed a foreign-used car outlet, auto supplies shop, and a wrecking service.
More bad news for the Maharaj family. Ramnarine, 56, and one of his employees pulled up in front of his business place on Longdenville Road, Longdenville, around 8.15 pm.
Ramnarine stepped out of his tow truck to open his big iron gate. His employee remained in the truck.
A man dressed in black accosted Ramnarine. Within seconds, the man whipped out a gun and shot Ramnarine twice in the head. He slumped to the ground and died. The killer just looked at the body and calmly walked away. Nothing was taken from Ramnarine. Police ruled out robbery. They believed it was a hit.
The killer left Ramnarine’s employee alive. The employee got out of the tow truck and ran to the nearby Longdenville Police Post to report the matter. When the police responded, they found Ramnarine lying dead in front of the business place he had built.
On Wednesday, Solomon, 40, was denied bail when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Jo-Anne Connor charged with stealing over $3 million from First Citizen’s Bank.
It is alleged that on September 23, Solomon, using a blow torch cut a hole to gain entry into the Montrose branch and made off with $3,000,030. None of the money has been recovered by the police.
Solomon was informed that there were some discrepancies with his criminal record as the police records show he had 20 matters, while he claimed to have less.