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Venezuelan men picked up at Gellizeau’s home


Resident Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Yoel Perez Marcano, is displeased with the manner in which three Venezuelan men were handled by police over the weekend.{{more}}

Information reaching SEARCHLIGHT indicates that the three men: Samer Salaheldim, lawyer; Miguel Pino and Angel Hernandez, both businessmen, were detained at the Central Police Station from Saturday, April 25, and released on Monday, April 27. No charges were laid against them.

SEARCHLIGHT also understands that the men were picked up at the home of Antonio “Que Pasa” Gellizeau around 6:30 pm on Saturday. Lawyers for the men, Grant Connell and Kay Bacchus-Browne, said that one of the men is an old friend of Gellizeau’s and had come to St Vincent to visit for the first time. Bacchus-Browne told Searchlight that police officers told her that they were carrying out “background checks” on the men. It is alleged that officers surrounded Gellizeau’s house and nabbed the three men. Their laptops, travel documents, and money, among other items, were also confiscated and later returned to them. However, according to Connell, each man’s money was short by at least $200 when returned.

Gellizeau, a businessman, is the subject of ongoing investigations by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Almost one year ago, the FIU obtained a court order to freeze Gellizeau’s assets, including bank accounts and several vehicles belonging to him and family members.

With the aid of an interpreter, the Venezuelan Ambassador told Searchlight it was Connell and Bacchus-Browne who had informed him of the men’s apprehension over the weekend. According to the Ambassador, the police said that they had had a busy weekend and weren’t able to contact the Embassy about the men’s arrest. “The Embassy thinks the police could have done a better job in communicating with us about the issue concerning the men,” the Ambassador stated. He said that police officers told him that the men were held because of “investigation purposes”.

Venezuela has had a cooperation agreement with St Vincent and the Grenadines in matters of drug trafficking since 1993. The agreement allows for full cooperation between both countries to supply information about Venezuelans who are detained here for drug related and other offences.

After they were released, Searchlight understands that police officers told the men that they were welcome to stay in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. All three men, however, left these shores immediately following their release on Tuesday.

Bacchus-Browne pointed out that a breach of protocol had been committed when there was no contact with the resident Venezuelan ambassador. The Lawyers said that they could not fathom why the men were detained and that there was no evidence given to justify the men’s arrest.