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Trinidad and Tobago Muslims set free in Venezuela

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Five Trinidad and Tobago Muslims who were detained in Venezuela for the past two and a half years on suspicion of being terrorists have been freed by a judge in the South American country over the week-end.

The judge ruled that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals were not guilty of the offences for which they have been charged and brought before the court.

The men are expected back home shortly after their travel documents have been processed by the Venezuelan authorities.

Relatives of the former accused- Wade Charles, Dominica Pitilal, Asim Luqman, Andre Battersby and Leslie Daisley- were elated by the news of their release and were eagerly awaiting their return.

Initially, 22 Trinidad and Tobago nationals had been arrested on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities following a raid by the Venezuelan Intelligence Agency at a hotel they were staying, but the women, children, and three Imams were eventually released.

The group had gone to Caracas to obtain Saudi Arabian visas to travel to Mecca, for the annual Muslim pilgrimage, Hajj.

The men faced terrorism charges, but those charges were eventually dropped and new charges of attempting to commit espionage were laid. Those were the charges which they were found not guilty.

Since their arrest on March 19, 2014, there had been numerous calls by some members of the Islamic community to intervene at the diplomatic level to have the men repatriated.

But the Trinidad and Tobago government said it could not interfere with the judicial process in Venezuela.

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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