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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Feb 1, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday said the alleged kidnapping of six nationals in Venezuela “is at a very sensitive stage” and has sought the assistance of the International police organisation, INTERPOL.
In a statement, the Ministry of National Security said that “the situation involving Trinidad and Tobago nationals being ‘kidnapped’ and currently held in Venezuela has been attracting the attention of the Ministry of National Security”.
“This matter is on-going and at a very sensitive stage. Accordingly, details and specific information surrounding the circumstances of this matter cannot be provided at this time.”
Media reports said that at least one of the fishermen detained last Sunday had been released after a ransom had been paid.
Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said the police were investigating the kidnapping of the six fishermen, allegedly by Venezuelan nationals, acknowledging also that he was not about to comment on whether or not a US$200,000 ransom had been demanded.
“We at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service are doing all that is required. It is a very difficult situation. Initially reports are that they (those kidnapped) were actually outside of our waters when it is they were actually held by these individuals,” he said.
Media reports here said that the kidnappers had given the relatives until Friday to pay the ransom or face the prospect of the hands of those detained being chopped off.
A photograph of the six men, identified as Jude Jaikaran,16; brothers Jason, 38, and Jerry O’Brian, 36; Ricky Rambharose, 35; Brandon Arjoon, 29; and Linton Manohar, 36, has been circulating on social media showing them sitting on the floor while being surrounded by men pointing machine-guns at them. The photo was sent to relatives on Monday.
In an audio clip that is also being circulated on social media, the families are warned that the kidnappers intend to make good on their demands.
In its statement, the Ministry of Nationals Security said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is managing the investigation here “and has communicated with INTERPOL and made requests for assistance through diplomatic channels” emphasising that the TTPS has no jurisdiction outside of Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Ministry of National Security uses this opportunity to remind commentators to be cautious in their utterances and condemnation of how the matter is being handled and the circumstances surrounding the matter as they are not privy to the facts and intelligence of this matter.”
National Security Minister Stuart Young is quoted in the statement as saying he would also like to remind nationals of Trinidad and Tobago that they “should be aware of the risks of leaving our territorial waters and venturing into the territorial waters of other countries where we have no jurisdiction”.
“The information surrounding this matter is that the Trinidadian individuals involved were abducted in Venezuelan river tributaries within the mainland of Venezuela,” he added.
The government said that it would “continue to monitor this situation and provide all of the material assistance that it can”.