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Dillon waits for full report

Friday, October 6, 2017
T&T soldiers wrongfully accused of stealing relief

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon is currently awaiting a comprehensive report involving two T&T Defence Force (TTDF) members who were accused of stealing relief items in Dominica a few days ago.

The T&T Guardian received information that the two soldiers were on patrol with relief items in their possession when they were intercepted and searched by other law enforcement officials believed to be from Dominica. The soldiers were accused of pilfering items and were subsequently detained for questioning.

During a series of interviews and intense questioning, however, the soldiers told their interrogators they noticed “some irregularities” in the distribution process and took it upon themselves to safeguard the items, hence the reason they were with them during their patrol.

In the end, the T&T Guardian was told by TTDF sources the case was found to be a “big mistake” and the “soldiers were wrongfully accused.

Contacted last night, Dillon admitted he got an initial report on the incident.

“There was a preliminary report done verbally and I await a subsequent report yet from the CDS (referring to the Chief of Defence Staff),” he said.

Asked when the incident occurred, he replied: “I can’t give an account of the date…something happened and I’m awaiting further information as it develops.”

A source close to a Dominican-based law enforcement agency told the T&T Guardian that after Hurricane Maria destroyed 90 per cent of the island it was alleged police were “aiding and abetting people to loot …this was before foreign troops came into the island though.” This, the source said, was what has led troops on the ground to be very watchful of even the relief items.

Contacted for a comment last night, TTDF Public Affairs Officer, Flight Lieutenant Monique Sprott, first asked the T&T Guardian’s source of the information. When she was told it would not be revealed, she said, “Well then this conversation is over please ma’am.”

On Monday, the T&T Coast Guard (TTCG) vessel TTS Brighton (CG 24) left Port-of-Spain en route to Dominica with approximately 23.3 tonnes of disaster relief items which was donated by private and corporate citizens.

According to a release issued by the Ministry of National Security yesterday, there were 61 people aboard the vessel, including soldiers, crew and five civilian medical staff.

The TTDF team on the ground in Dominica continues to provide support in the areas of damage assessment, relief distribution, search and rescue and medivac assistance. Both air and maritime support to Dominica is expected to continue over the next few weeks.

Dillon has extended thanks to all those who have responded to the national relief efforts and encouraged continued contributions at locations previously identified by the TTDF and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM).

Efforts to reach the Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for comment last night were unsuccessful as calls to his cell phone went straight to a voice recording suggesting the unit was off.


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