“I am not convinced it is a soldier.”
This was the response of former Chief of the Defence Staff Major General Ralph Brown surrounding claims that a member of the T&T Defence Force (TTDF) was allegedly caught on video stuffing his tactical uniform with a wad of cash during last week’s raid at the La Horquetta home of Drugs Sou Sou (DSS) operator Kerron Clarke.
The police-led raid netted millions in cash which is now the subject of a police investigation.
Having viewed the tape, Browne said he was not totally convinced based on what the man was wearing.
“I know in my time, no soldier would be dressed like that to go on any joint patrol wearing such apparel. They would have worn military uniform. I don’t recognise that as being a military uniform.”
Brown said he also found it strange that the soldier was not wearing military boots.
“Not something that looked like a slippers or sneakers. That is why I am still not convinced. Given what I know how soldiers would dress. That is the point I am making.”
Brown said he was not dismissing the fact it could be a soldier.
“Maybe now they allow them to go and dress like that.”
Brown said Police Commissioner Gary Griffith seemed certain it was a soldier and not a T&T Police Service member. “He probably knows.”
He said as far as he knows the Special Operation Response Team (SORT) operates by itself.
“They have ex-soldiers that are supposed to work with SORT. Maybe that is what he (Griffith) meant.”
If it is a soldier, Brown said the officer should be immediately investigated and if found guilty of wrongdoing be charged and dismissed from the TTDF.
He said the negative actions of a soldier can tarnish the entire reputation of the TTDF.
Brown believes something has gone awry with the training at the TTDF.
“In the early days when we train soldiers…soldiers would not do that. We break you down and build you back up into the individual we want you to be.”
He said the hallmark of the TTDF is based on honesty, discipline, trust and integrity.
“All of that is taught during the recruitment training. There is a group of senior officers who would meet regularly and we are all concerned with the direction the military is taking.”
Senior Counsel Avory Sinanan said before any disciplinary or dismissal action is taken, a detailed investigation is required.
“The person has to be questioned as to why he was putting the cash in his uniform. Did he surrender it afterwards or did he keep it?”
This, Sinanan said, will be unearthed by investigating officers.
Sinanan said the move by the soldier would be seen as suspicious.
“He was engaged in an asportation of the money which means to steal it. An investigation has to be carried out to say that definitely.”