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Barrack Room Justice?
Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2004

by Linda E. Edwards

A major investigation into activities at Camp Ogden, and a complete lockdown resulted in the return of the Galal rifle that went missing. The trail led from the camp, according to the papers, to Laventille/Belmont then to Chaguanas and finally to D'Abadie where the rifle was recovered.

The army may be on to something here; the possibility that a gang of soldiers conspired to promote a criminal enterprise in conjunction with criminal gangs in three sections of the country. There is a chance to break the back of a possible major crime ring that may have been planning assassinations of government leaders, or a heist on the Central Bank or some such entity. (Such people would want to have fire power to match the best that the country has to offer). They would want to pursue a connection between the theft previously, of ammunition for the rifle, and possibly re-open the investigation into the stolen ammunition.

Now while people are still confined to barracks, and hopefully, separated, so that they cannot get their stories together, a retired Brigadier calls for Barrack Room Justice. How many drinks did Mr. Alphonso have before he opened his mouth in full media view? What exactly is he talking about? Beat the guy to death who is suspected, so that he cannot talk about connections? Frag him? Have him "Accidentally shot" while doing routine things?

All of these would purchase one thing, silence; a silence that would effectively cover up the following: that he did not act alone, that the two thefts were connected, that army people are in cahoots with criminals, and that the rumors that there is a connection between some army people and the influx of drugs through Teteron Bay, and that perhaps, rogue elements in the army and the police work together, and that such elements are a threat to the safety and stability not only of the nation as a whole but of the government in power, and thus, again, of the people who elected them.

In that sense, specifically, Ret. Officer Alphonso's remarks are deadly and dangerous. In the other sense too, that they may inflame some patriotic hothead within the army, acting alone, his remarks are also dangerous.

One trait of a good leader is leadership, even after retiring. An Officer Emeritus, which is what a retired commander should be, should continue to be a role model to other junior people, in the ranks, and in the society. This, unfortunately, by his remarks, he is not. Now I do not know the gentleman personally. He never stood me up for a date, acted disgracefully towards any of my younger sisters or anything. I am dealing here with some principles along which we will run our still young country.

He is wrong to advocate anything except a thorough investigation, a court martial if necessary, and then following the law of the land no matter how high up the investigation may lead. Inflamatory comments, in a tinderbox of a country, is exactly what responsible people should avoid.

Retired Brigadier Alphonso owes the country, and the would-be law abiding teens in particular, a retraction of his violatile statements. Taking the law into one's own hands is hooliganism at its worst.

I am reminded of the shooting death of a young army female, a crack shooter, by Army admission; and a person "who knew something" according to her mother, who was shot on an army bus in 1986-7. The bullet came from an army rifle at the back of the bus. No satisfactory closure was ever done, as far as I recall.

Was that "Barrack Room Justice" for a potential whistle blower? If those guys on the bus seventeen years ago stayed in the service, they are now senior officers.

In the light of all that I have said, this leter to the three major papers is also plea for protective custody of the main accused in the rifle scandal. Protect him from the "wrath" of his army buddies. He knows something more that we as a nation, need to find out.

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