SORT head questioned in deaths of murder suspects – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Insp Mark Hernandez -
Insp Mark Hernandez –

HEAD of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) Insp Mark Hernandez is currently being interviewed at the Pinto Road Police Post in relation to the deaths of two murder suspects while in police custody.

Hernandez was picked up at his Arima home just after 9 am on Wednesday morning and arrived at the police station around 10.50 am. Senior police sources said Hernandez was not arrested and denied reports that his home was searched.

Last week, Hernandez told Newsday that his officers will make themselves available for questioning in the probe. He also said he had not been questioned and if needed, he will avail himself.

Hernandez is last of 12 SORT police officers to be interviewed. Investigators intend to also question five more soldiers attached to the unit, having interviewed five already who were part of the operations that led to the arrests of Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon.

An undetermined number of officers assigned to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit have also been questioned in relation to Morris and Balcon’s death.

Hernandez has been nominated by the Police Service Commission for one of the two remaining vacancies of Deputy Commissioner of Police but that matter has not yet been approved by Parliament.

The men were held by SORT hours apart on January 30 in connection with the kidnapping of court clerk Andrea Bharatt. Two days after the arrest Morris died and Balcon eight days later. Autopsies concluded that they both died from blunt force trauma. Their relatives claimed they were beaten to death by police.

Bharatt’s body was found down a precipice off Aripo Road on February 4 after she went missing on January 29.

Negus George has been charged with her murder.