T&T Soldiers Charged With Murdering U.S. Army Veteran

Hardbeatnews, PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tues. Jan. 31, 2006: They are required to uphold the law but yesterday, three T&T Defence Force members found themselves on the other side of the justice system, charged with murdering a Trinidad-born American Army veteran holidaying in his homeland.

Police claim Sgt Leon Nurse of Barataria, Cpl Ricardo De Four of St James and Pte Richard Stephenson of El Socorro, San Juan were part of a group of six others who kidnapped and murdered Balram “Balo” Maharaj.

Trinidad media reports indicate the three stood silently as prosecutors told the magistrate that the soldiers, along with six others, murdered the Vietnam veteran between April 6, 2005 and January 9, 2006, at Grand Curacaye.

Maharaj, 62, was snatched last year while at the Samaan Tree Bar near the D’Triangle in Aranjuez. The Mount Vernon, NY resident was on a visit to his homeland for a two-week vacation after recovering from a stroke. His body was only found on January 8, 2006, at Grande Curacaye, Santa Cruz, cut in two and buried in a plastic barrel and a cooler in two shallow graves.

Kevin Nixon, a laborer of Mars Trace, Upper Santa Cruz along with Kenneth and Wayne Pierre of Grand Curacaye, Bourg Mulatresse, Lower Santa Cruz were also charged along with the three soldiers yesterday.

Maharaj’s former common-law wife, Doreen Alexander Durity along with Anderson Straker, the foster son of former Minister in the Ministry of Culture and one-time National Calypso Monarch, Winston “Gypsy” Peters andZion Clark, of Grand Curacaye, Santa Cruz, and have also been charged with the killing. They are set to reappear in court on Feb. 8th before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls.

The United States government had last April, offered a US$10,000 reward for information leading to the safe release of Maharaj while his relatives had also reported paid part of a ransom. Kidnapping remains a major problem in Trinidad and the U.S. State Department has warned nationals to be on the alert if they choose to visit the island since, “Violent crimes, including assault, kidnapping for ransom and murder, have involved foreign residents and tourists, including U.S. citizens.” – Hardbeatnews.com