The Antigua & Barbuda Defence Force (ABDF) has been stripped of the responsibility of guarding the residence of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, at least until the outcome of the probe into a break-in and theft at his Hodges Bay property is revealed.
Although he confirmed that the ABDF is no longer guarding the prime minister’s private residence, Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Sir Trevor Thomas declined comment and indicated he is still away on vacation.
However, other sources close to the probe told OBSERVER media that when the usual security detail of soldiers turned up for the 6 pm to 6 am shift Monday, they were dismissed and advised their services were no longer required.
The sources said the soldiers returned to base where they learned the defence force chiefs had been notified since Sunday evening of the PM’s decision to dismiss them, but for some reason, the message had not been conveyed to the officers.
Up to late yesterday, six soldiers were being held for questioning, police sources confirmed. Initially, they were under guard at Police Headquarters, but were later taken to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) which is handling the probe.
On Sunday evening the prime minister and his family returned from vacation in the Dominican Republic and found the house had been burglarised and laptops and Ipads were missing.
Major Alando Michael, who is responsible for administration of the ABDF, told OBSERVER media, “We are carrying out investigations along with the police investigations. As yet there is no determination as to the exact time the incident occurred.”
Major Michael said the army is in full support of the police probe and will, in the interest of transparency, allow them to lead the way with respect to prosecution if it turns out that a soldier committed the offence.