The arrest of a 46-year-old man for allegedly calling in a hoax to the Police Command Centre on Thursday, is not a clear cut case as many would believe.
Police are grappling with the information they have and they are wondering how to go about with the investigations before approaching the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for his advice.
The Police Command Centre received a call around 11.45 am on Thursday from a male person who said “something would happen at the Mall” within 15 minutes. The caller was referring to Trincity Mall.
Police investigators are probing three issues – did the call to the Police Command Centre constitute a bomb threat, wasting police time, or warning the police of impending danger? Further, police are investigating whether the caller breached any of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs issued a press release on Friday stating that hoaxes involving explosives or lethal devices constitute offences under the anti-terrorism act.
Section 21 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Chap. 12:07 (“the Act”) states: “21(2) A person commits an offence if he communicates any information which he knows or believes to be false with the intention of inducing in a person anywhere in the world a belief that a noxious substance or other noxious thing or a lethal device or a weapon of mass destruction is likely to be present, whether at the time the information is communicated or later, in any place,
(3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for fifteen years.” The Ministry indicated that offences under section 21(2) constitute a “terrorist act” as defined in Section 2 of the Act. Under Section 22B(1)(b) (i) of the Act, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that anyone has committed a terrorist act, the Attorney General may apply to a Judge of the High Court for an Order declaring the person to be a listed entity and to have that person’s funds frozen.
A labourer from Arouca remains in police custody on Saturday. He was arrested at the La Luna Bar, Eastern Main Road, Arouca shortly before midday on Thursday by a team of officers from the Special Branch.
He was taken to the Special Branch office in Port-of-Spain where he spent all of Thursday being interrogated. But the suspect insisted that he was not the person who made the call to the command centre.
He said that shortly after 11 am he was at the La Luna Bar in company with others, when a man he knows as being a regular patron of the bar asked to borrow his cellular phone to make an urgent call.
He said that he told the man that he did not have any money on his phone and the man indicated he was willing to put a $10 phone card on the phone. According to the suspect, after the phone call was made, he checked his phone and realised that the man called 999.
He said he did not pay any attention to it and continued liming at the bar when he was approached by a team of police officers who whisked him away in an unmarked police vehicle and took him to Port-of-Spain.
The suspect was handed over to the the Arima CID on Thursday. Officers requested CCTV footage from the La Luna Bar to ascertain if the man in custody was telling the truth that he lent another man his cellular phone.
If it turns out to be true that the suspect lent his phone to another man, then the police would be searching for another suspect, a frequent patron to the La Luna Bar.