Couple carrying fake Israeli passports said to have escaped hotel despite tight security. Duo allegedly involved in conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, four cabinet members
Two Israeli citizens arrested in Trinidad and Tobago with fake passports escaped from their hotel under mysterious circumstances last week, five months after being placed under tight security, the Trinidad Guardian reported earlier this week.
According to the newspaper, the Caribbean country’s authorities are looking into suspicions that the two – Robert and Anastasia – were somehow involved in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and four members of her cabinet.
Anastasia 28, and Robert, 34, were first arrested in the tropical island of St. Maarten after raising the suspicions of local airport authorities, the report said. Nonetheless, the two were allowed to board a plane to Trinidad and Tobago.
They landed in the country on June 6, and were detained the next day while attempting to board a CAL flight to Toronto, Canada. The arrest was made possible thanks to an early warning received by local security services from the St. Maarten authorities.
According to the Trinidad newspaper, upon checking, security officers discovered that the photographs on the couple’s Israeli passports were totally different to their person.
“The passports were issued on January 26, 2004 in Rishon Lezion, Israel,” the report said. “The duo – pretending to be a husband and wife team – were destined for Canada, but was intercepted in St Maarten after being pre-checked.”
“St. Maarten did not do anything with them so they came here (Trinidad),” a source told the newspaper.
‘Couple threatened to take legal action’
“They were handed over to immigration department who was a bit skeptical as to whether their passports were legitimate or not because the couple kept threatening to take legal action for detaining them,” a well placed source told the Trinidad Guardian.
According to the report, the Immigration Authority then gave orders that they should be placed in CAL’s care under security watch, instead of taking them to the Ministry of National Security’s detention center.
According to the source, the country’s authorities – and not the airline – were fully responsible for the duo’s escape. Information obtained from intelligence, he said, suspected that the couple were Russians.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Photo: Reuters)
The source added that the impostors were handed over to CAL security, pending correspondents from the Israeli government to determine their true identities. Posted on the wall at Immigration office were the couple’s true identity along with images of their fake passports.
“This meant that Immigration had information of who the holders of the passports were. These people should have been locked up and prosecuted. You cannot have things like this pushed under the carpet,” the source said angrily.
Asked how the couple managed to escape, the source replied: “We don’t know how they absconded. Knowing that they have been under watch for this length of time and are well financed it would have been easy for them to corrupt someone. That is my suspicion.”
Another fact adding to the mystery is that the couple escaped on November 20, days before Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said that police thwarted a plot to assassinate her and four members of her cabinet.
Several readers responded to the affair on Trinidad Guardian’s Facebook page. “When did CAL become Immigration, Ministry if National Security, Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs?” one of them asked.
Another reader wondered if the two Israelis were spies, while someone else accused them of being human traffickers. “This would make a good movie,” one of the readers concluded.
The CAL airline declined comment on the report, as did Trinidad and Tobago’s transportation minister.
Rishon Lezion couple: Our passports stolen
The couple whose pictures appeared in the Trinidad Guardian report told Ynet on Tuesday that their passports were stolen from their home in Rishon Lezion about half a year ago.
About a month later, the husband received a surprising phone call from the Ben-Gurion Airport’s passport control. “They told us that someone tried to board a plane with our passports and that the people were arrested. That’s the first time we realized that our passports had been stolen,” he said.
The two filed a complaint with the police and reported the theft to the Interior Ministry, but this week “we began receiving phone calls from friends who informed me that my picture was in the newspaper and that I was suspected of being involved in a prime minister’s assassination.”
He added that he and his wife had not left Israel since the incident. “I haven’t even renewed my passports since it was stolen. The authorities did not inform us of this confusion. We thought someone had tried to take a loan with the passport. Who would have thought about a prime minister’s murder?
“I hope we don’t get arrested in other places. We have a problem with Trinidad, and not it’s reached the whole world.”