PORT OF SPAIN – Rayad Mohammed, the man who allegedly issued a threat against the wife and daughter of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, via a Facebook post has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge.
Mohammed who celebrates his 25th birthday today was granted $15,000 bail when he appeared before Siparia Second Court Magistrate Ava Vandenberg-Bailey yesterday.
Mohammed was arrested on Saturday night one day after the post appeared on his Facebook page.
He spent three days in police custody before being charged on Tuesday night following instructions from the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard.
He was released later that night after being granted police bail in the sum of $500. The charge alleged that on June 30, at Belle View Industrial Estate, South Oropouche he allegedly sent a grossly offensive message by telephone.
Mohammed allegedly wrote: “Someone should find Rowley daughter and wife and slit their throats n rape them.” The post was made two days after gruesome double murder of Hafeeza Mohammed, 56, and Videsh Subar, 13, in Malabar. Both victims were tied up and had their throats slit during a home invasion.
Mohammed subsequently closed his Facebook account and issued an apology for the offensive post.
His attorney, Hasine Shaikh, told reporters after the case: “He is not guilty at the end of the day and so he was advised to plead not guilty. This is a situation where a person rose up against what is happening in our country and he is being penalised for it. At the end of the day there are a number of persons on social media and on television and radio programmes who have a lot of things to say and the reality is it a lot of emotion.
“And I think we have been distracted and it has been a diversion of the fact that there are innocent people being killed and there is something that needs to be done about it.”
Mohammed was charged by Cpl Darwin Badree of the Fraud Squad, contrary to Sec 106 (a) of the Summary Offences Act. The offence carries a maximum fine of $200 or imprisonment for a month.
Prosecutor Sgt Starr Jacob said a fingerprint trace was not done because the police computerised system was not working. However, she said a name check did not show up any convictions or pending matters. Jacob said Mohammed received police bail on Tuesday night but requested that it be regularised.
Mohammed’s attorney Hasine Shaikh said up until Friday her client worked as a Class 5 driver but the company has since told him they “will reach out to him after the matter is settled.”
She said he lived with his parents at Rio Claro and had a clean record. The prosecutor presented the defence with disclosure, comprising ten items, but she said there was one outstanding document, a report from the T&T Guardian newspaper.
Mohammed’s mother offered to be his surety for bail but the prosecutor objected because the mother owned the phone which Mohammed allegedly used to commit the offence.
Instead, his father was approved as surety. The magistrate adjourned the matter to August 2, for a case management hearing to decide the way forward. Shaikh said she will indicate on that day whether they will be calling witnesses. The prosecution said they intend to call five witnesses, including Cpl Vinelle Dassarath who was present in court. Shaikh said attorney Wayne Sturge was also in the matter.