Sixteen men detained in an alleged plot to kill the prime minister and other officials in Trinidad and Tobago have been released after officials were unable to find sufficient evidence against them, police said Tuesday.
Prosecutors had held the group under special legal powers granted under the emergency decree, but did not fine enough evidence to bring charges, said Sgt. Wayne Mystar, a spokesman for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
The men left the jail just before the midnight Monday expiration of the emergency order. Most covered their faces and quickly got into the vehicles of relatives, but several cheered or shouted "freedom" and denounced the government for holding them on what they said was a fabricated plot.
"All praise to Allah, justice has been done and there is no truth to it (the plot)," said David Millard, a former member of Jamaat Al Muslimeen, a Muslim group that staged a violent attempted coup against the twin-island's government in July 1990.
Selwyn Alexis, another of the detained men, said he would take legal action against the government for wrongfully holding him for nearly two weeks. "This was because a certain corrupt police office and a cabal in the police force orchestrated this plot and misled the prime minister," he said.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar reported the alleged plot on Nov. 24, saying police had uncovered plans to kill her and several members of her Cabinet in response to her government's crackdown on crime in the southern Caribbean nation.
Neither she nor other officials provided any details of the alleged plot and opposition leaders had expressed deep skepticism, accusing the government of exaggerating the threat to justify a state of emergency that included a nearly three-month curfew that had helped reduce homicides but had angered many people.