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Reyes in court on cellphone charges

Published: 
Saturday, January 31, 2015

A State attorney from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is to be appointed to prosecute Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Peter Reyes on allegations of endangering the lives of the passengers and crew aboard a domestic flight by failing to switch off his cellphone. 

Reyes, who has more than 37 years service as a police officer, appeared in the Arima Magistrate’s Court yesterday to answer three charges arising out of an incident which allegedly took place last month on the runway of the Piarco International Airport. Reyes, 57, of Mausica Lands, Arima, was escorted to the court by Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Glen Hackett, hours after the charges were laid on him at the Central Police Station, Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning. 

In an unusual move Hackett, the lead investigator of the allegations against Reyes, stood alongside his colleague in the prisoner enclosure of the Arima Second Court as the charges were being read by Magistrate Debbie-Ann Bassaw. “Not guilty, ma’am,” Reyes, who was dressed in a short sleeved shirt and grey jeans said in loud tone which echoed throughout the court. 

The charges, which fall under Section 60 (1) of the Civil Aviation Act, are for threatening the safety of the aircraft and passengers on board; using abusive and insulting language towards a crew member and for intentionally interfering with  crew members in the execution of their duties. All three carry a maximum fine of $25,000 and up to a year imprisonment. 

In a public statement, which followed the incident, Reyes denied any wrongdoing and claimed he was victimised because he was black. Reyes, who was on his was to take up duties as head of the Tobago Division when the incident last December 18, was transfered to the Community Relations Unit. In his plea for bail, Reyes’ lawyer Lyndon Leu said his client had a sterling record during his long career. 

“He is well known by all ranks, from the Police Commissioner to constables,” Leu said. Bassaw granted Reyes $30,000 bail with a surety and also gave him a cash alternative of $7,000. Leu, who is appearing along with his wife Tristle Khan-Leu, also requested that prosecutors quickly disclose all evidence against his client, including witness statements, identification parade notes and telephone records. Reyes will reappear in court on February 27. 

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