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Back from Jordan

Published: 
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Detained wife, children return minus hubby
Nafeesa Mohammed

Three members of an East Trinidad family detained in Jordan since January were deported back to T&T on April 3 - but the whereabouts of the fourth family member, Keegan Roopchand, remain unknown although he was expected back last Tuesday.

Intelligence community officials last Thursday confirmed the return of mother Zaida Mohammed and her seven-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon yesterday said he was aware they’d returned - but minus Roopchand.

“We’re monitoring the rest of this matter and liaising with international partners on it,” Dillon added briefly.

Attorney Nafeesa Mohammed, who’s representing family members, has called on Government to provide answers to the devastated family, who she says has no idea if Roopchand is alive, where he is or if he’ll return.

The Sangre Grande family was detained in or around January 14 in Amman, Jordan, where Zaida Mohammed was said to be pursuing a nursing course. Other reports claimed they were detained in Jordan based on information supplied to foreign agencies by local law enforcement and they had given information which led to T&T authorities’ knowledge of the recent Carnival threat. Their relatives have distanced the family from any security matter.

Their detention was raised by the Muslims of T&T group at the March 7 meeting Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley held with Muslim groups on the Carnival threat alert.

Attorney Nafessa Mohammed subsequently wrote the Foreign Affairs, National Security and Attorney General’s Ministries seeking the family’s status and for Government help to expedite their return.

But although Zaida Mohammed and her children were allowed to return home - after three months’ detention - that return appears to have been as complicated as her detention.

Intelligence officials tracking the matter said the children had been in a facility similar to an orphanage in Jordan, separate to Mrs Mohammed while she was detained. They had a care-giver, but were only reunited with their mother when all three came together to return home. They were deported back to T&T on April 3, via Condor Airlines from Germany with tickets paid for by the family.

Zaida Mohammed’s parents received a call from police two weeks ago that she and her children would be returning on April 3, sources said. The family went to meet the returning group in Tobago, where the airline lands.

Sources confirmed the children were in good health and well-outfitted. But while the children were allowed to go home with relatives, Zaida Mohamed was detained by Special Branch police for interviews and was in custody up to last week Saturday. She was described as being in a fragile state and was flown by helicopter to the Arima Health Facility. However, she remained detained and was taken to Fraud Squad’s Port-of-Spain offices for several days, they added. They said she appeared to have post-traumatic stress after the Jordan experience and was given support and attention for several days at an institution.

It was also confirmed her family sought legal action - habeas corpus proceedings in the Port-of-Spain and San Fernando courts last Monday and Tuesday to have her released. Mohammed was subsequently released last Tuesday, they added.

Meanwhile, officials said police contacted her husband’s family last Tuesday informing them he was due to return home that week from Jordan also. Relatives went to Tobago to meet the flight - coming from Germany - but Roopchand wasn’t aboard. Police couldn’t give reasons why Roopchand didn’t arrive

Yesterday, Roopchand’s relative indicated - via a spokesman - that while they were happy at the return of Zaida Mohammed and the two children, they’re extremely worried about Roopchand. They said Mohammed hadn’t been charged with anything in Jordan or in T&T, nor had Roopchand been charged.

‘WHERE IS HE’—ATTORNEY

Attorney Nafeesa Mohammed says she needs answers on where Keegan Roopchand is.

“It’s very worrisome for this family, who’s been separated for three months and now have lost contact with their husband and father. We seek help from the state on Mr Roopchand’s whereabouts, his status and condition. We’re appealing, particularly to the Attorney General’s Ministry, to assist since he’s in charge of the Central Authority which handles Mutual Assistance matters with other territories,” she told the Sunday Guardian.

Mohammed first wrote Government on the family’s dilemma on March 13, giving the reasons for the family’s migration to Jordan. Following return of the mother and children, she again wrote the AG’s Ministry last Thursday, seeking information on Roopchand.

“Did he miss his flight? Was he brought from Jordan to Germany - why the delay?” she asked.

She appealed to the AG to find out of Roopchand is alive, his location, status and condition and for intervention to assisting his immediate return - but there’s been no feedback. Sources said the family are devout Muslims - of the Salafi faith - and hard working people.

Mohammed said, “They’re humble and intelligent. The boy was a teacher and intended to become a farmer. Because of their desire to live in a more Islamic environment, they migrated to Jordan, getting an apartment after arriving. Their relatives lost contact with them around January 23.”

 

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