RADHICA DE SILVA
Coast Guard officers were yesterday accused of choking and beating two fishermen after they intercepted a boat which they claim was returning home from Venezuelan waters.
Relatives of the two men argue that the boat was in territorial waters and were innocent.
President of the Icacos Fishing Association Esook Ali claimed his grandson was choked by a Coast Guard officer.
“It was just like what happened in the States when my son intervened, they hold him and slam him on one side,” Ali said.
While he had no problem with the T&T Coast Guard protecting the waters, Ali said he was against the arrest and harassment of innocent fishermen who never crossed to the Venezuelan border.
“It’s over 10 fishermen face this kind of treatment. They have beaten people mercilessly and taken away their goods. I agree that if someone does something illegally, then the full force of the law should be applied but if you catch somebody fishing why you treating them this way,” Ali said.
He added, “We have people doing illegal things but not everybody doing this.”
Ali said he had hired an attorney and planned to take legal action.
However, the T&T Coast Guard in a statement, denied that anyone was beaten.
Public Affairs Officer Khadija Lamy said on Thursday while conducting border security patrols, the Coast Guard intercepted a vessel named ‘FV’ZAFRULLA III’ south-west of Icacos.
“The vessel had been observed rendezvousing with another vessel across the border from Trinidad in Venezuelan waters. FV’Zafrulla III was stopped as they attempted to re-enter Trinidad waters. Onboard were two male nationals. Upon searching the vessel, a large cargo of shrimp and fish was discovered. The crew was interviewed and it was revealed that the contents of the vessel were purchased from Venezuelans,” Lamy said.
The vessel was detained and its crew and cargo were handed over to representatives of the police, Customs and Excise Division and Immigration Division.
Lamy said the Coast Guard continues to provide border security services in the face of the threat of COVID-19 through the conduct of maritime security patrols within territorial waters.