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Conspiracy Theories Abound in Aftermath of Trinidad Jailbreak

"Belmont rooftops"; image by (ha)SanMan_ish, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license. Belmont is the Port of Spain suburb to which one of the escaped prisoners was reportedly trying to flee.

“Belmont rooftops”; image by (ha)SanMan_ish, used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license. Belmont is the Port of Spain suburb to which one of the escaped prisoners was reportedly trying to flee.

Update: About 24 hours after the publishing of this post, one of the two men who were still at large, Hassan Atwell, was shot dead, though the police claim not by them. His death is therefore being treated as a homicide. The other escaped prisoner, Christopher Selby, turned himself in to police a day later and is now back in prison.

It is a calm day in Trinidad and Tobago. There are no blaring police sirens, no rumbling of helicopter rotors—a stark contrast to the confusion and panic yesterday caused by the escape of three “high-risk” prisoners from the Royal Gaol in Port of Spain. In the aftermath, escapee Allan “Scanny” Martin and one police officer lay dead; the two other escaped prisoners, Hassan Atwell and Christopher Selby, remain at large.

One newspaper report which is being heavily shared on social media details how Selby commandeered a taxi to flee the scene, saying to its occupants, ““Excuse me but we just trying to fight the system.” In a satirical post on the jailbreak, Wired868 quipped:

Well, that was bacchanal. Trinidad and Tobago was so hot yesterday even Jack Warner considered asking the US Attorney General for a plane ticket.

The post went on to poke fun at the fact that Atwell appeared to have an active Facebook account while in prison:

At around noon yesterday, Port of Spain inmate Hassan Atwell and two fellow prisoners Allan ‘Scanny’ Martin and Christopher ‘Monster’ Selby made a daring jailbreak.

But first, they had to wait for the 41-year-old Atwell to update his Facebook page with the usual rant about his unwillingness to bend to the oppressive nature of incarceration and to share a ‘Ent! Breaking News’ video.

On Facebook, Darren Trinity Cheewah posted cartoon commentary on Atwell's apparent ability to gain internet access while in prison:

Artwork by Darren Trinity Cheewah; used with permission.

Artwork by Darren Trinity Cheewah; used with permission.

Artwork by Darren Trinity Cheewah; used with permission.

Artwork by Darren Trinity Cheewah; used with permission.

As of the time of writing, Atwell's Facebook page is no longer visible to the public.

In the absence of an official version of events from either the police or the Ministry of National Security, netizens have begun cooking up conspiracy theories regarding links between the jailbreak and the Jamaat al Muslimeen. The Jamaat is the organisation behind the attempted coup d'état in 1990, and its leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, was detained earlier this week for questioning, along with eight other Jamaat members. Among the most talked about news items this morning was that one of the eight detainees, Hamid Ali, has been charged for the murder of Dana Seetahal, the Senior Counsel who was gunned down at point blank range on May 4 last year. Hamid Ali is the brother of Rajaee Ali, who is currently incarcerated on charges of conspiracy to murder. The latter had been involved in the controversial Lifesport programme, which has been plagued with corruption allegations.

Wired868's Mr. Live Wire tried to connected the dots by explaining:

Ali (R) is the son of Hassan Ali who is the Imam for the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen’s Carapo mosque and he leads prayers there himself as well.

It meant another round of questions to Imam Yasin Abu Bakr and his son Fuad Abu Bakr, the political leader of the NNV party, on whether their religious sect was housing and benefitting from crime. […]

Of course, Government interests seem to run alarmingly close to several criminal cases at the moment, not least the Seetahal murder, which, according to the police, might have been organised by persons who were on the LifeSport payroll at the time.

In a brilliant parallel, the post basically asked why what was good for Peter was not good for Paul:

Four years ago, attorney David West, who is now the PCA chairman, found it “passing strange” that then AG Anand Ramlogan did not appeal a ruling against extradition for UNC financiers Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson since Atwell was in a similar situation. […]

‘It is passing strange that the State loses one application before a single High Court judge in a complex and highly politically charged case and deems it not fit to appeal,’ said West. ‘An appeal is necessary to clarify this ‘grey’ area in the law…Two other accused persons, Hassan Atwell and Gary Govindass are also in this same predicament by having a local charge existing whilst extradition proceedings are ongoing.’

Earlier this week, Works Minister and Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan unveiled a $14 million State project that was completed by Galbaransingh’s Aztec Asphalt Pavers company. […]

Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, whose ministry oversaw the tendering process, sang from the same hymn sheet.

‘Why should we distance ourselves? Is it that he is not allowed to do business in Trinidad?’ asked Maharaj, knowing full well that Trinidad is the perfect place for men like Galbaransigh to do business.

On Friday, Atwell decided that he deserved to be free to do business too. So, he updated his Facebook page and then blasted his way out of jail, leaving a dead officer in his wake. […]

This place gone though, oui.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has since announced that it will hold a press conference on the Dana Seetahal investigation at 2:30 p.m. today.

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