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Griffith targets criminal elements in Life Sport

By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, June 11 2014

click on pic to zoom in
National Security Minister Gary Griffith...
National Security Minister Gary Griffith...

MINISTER of National Security Gary Griffith yesterday said he will not be intimidated by criminal elements within the controversial Life Sport, elements which he said are of the view that they own the State programme.

In the wake of reports of high-ranking officials of the programme being subject to death threats, Griffith said he would move to weed out rogue elements once and for all.

“I intend to remove the 1,400 Caspers — the ghosts,” Griffith told reporters before yesterday’s sitting of the Senate.

“I intend to remove the criminal elements, to remove the individuals who actually feel that they actually own Life Sport programme which is why you are hearing of threats now. It is over.”

Of the rogue elements, Griffith said, “They certainly cannot intimidate the Minister of National Security; they certainly cannot intimidate members of the Defence Force. We intend to remove the rogue elements from the Life Sport programme. We intend to remove the rogue elements from the URP, and all other aspects of the State.”

The Minister of National Security was clear that the State would not negotiate with criminals.

“As I said before, I have no intention to negotiate with criminals,” he said.

“They are not Robin Hoods. They are criminal elements who have deprived citizens of their fundamental right to safety and security, and if it is that I can do anything to cut their financial cord, make life difficult for them, then we will do that. It is going to make it easier for the law enforcement officers to confront them head on.”

Griffith once more said the Defence Force would play a key role in dealing with the programme.

“With the use of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force in the Life Sport programme you can rest assured that any aspect of criminal activity, any rogue element, any gang leader will no longer be in the Life Sport programme,” he said.

Griffith however said he had not been aware of reports of death threats against sport ministry officials in relation to the programme but added, “as soon as a matter is undergoing investigation, I do not want to make mention of it.”

On the reports that individuals had declined to report threats to the police, Griffith said, “What I have always said is we have to put the trust in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Yes there will be questionable elements in all aspects everywhere you go. But we have to support and we have to trust the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.”

Griffith continued, “All I could ask people to do is to help the police help yourself. If you see something, you say something. And it would be very difficult for me to actually explain why individuals have not gone to the police. I most certainly would want citizens to trust in the system, and to believe in the Police Service, and to do their duty. It will be able to help them help you.”

He said if a formal report is made, a threat assessment can be done and measures to protect persons put in place.

On the status of ongoing probes into Life Sport, Griffith said, “That would be for the Ministry of Finance.” Asked if there had been a formal debriefing from Sport Minister Anil Roberts on the programme when it was shifted to the Ministry of National Security last month, Griffith said, “No.”

Asked if both ministers had been in dialogue over the programme, Griffith said, “I would not want to make any comment pertaining to any dialogue between the minister and myself in relation to this.”

The Minister of National Security said the State was looking at approaching sporting bodies in communities in order to get them to tackle the social aspects around crime.

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