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Cops raid Zen nightclub

By RHONDOR DOWLAT Thursday, April 26 2007

click on pic to zoom in

A CONTINGENT of police officers raided the Zen nightclub yesterday and for over two hours, searched for video tapes and other items pertaining to the Akon concert which was held almost two weeks ago and in which the Senegalese-born hip hop star stirred controversy with his lewd romp with 15-year-old Danah Alleyne.

After the search, which was witnessed by Zenís operations manager Arnold Stephens and several staff members, the officers who are from both the Port-of-Spain Division and the Police Audio Visual Unit, left without taking anything.

The exercise was spearheaded by Sgt Ajith Persad and included Ag Sgt Ramsook and WPC Cpl Coker.

According to sources, Commissioner of Police Trevor Paul instructed Sgt Persad to issue a search warrant on the clubís management and search the premises.

The warrant was issued shortly at about midday by Justice of the Peace Mottley De Peaza of Maraval.

A police panel van, two police jeeps and two police cars pulled up in front of the club at about 2.15 pm and over 20 officers went into the club. The warrant was executed and the officers carried out their search.

While members of the media gathered outside the club, persons on the rooftop threw pebbles and also shouted at reporters.

An investigating officer told Newsday they went in search of video recordings relating to the Akon concert and that they were particularly interested in seeing footage of patrons arriving at the club as well as Akonís performance on stage.

During a part of the US hip hop artisteís performance, several young girls went up on stage to dance with him.

One of them, 15-year-old Danah Alleyne, the daughter of Pastor Dave Alleyne of Flaming Word Ministries in Chaguanas, engaged in an explicit dance act with Akon.

Police sources confirmed that nothing was found at the club and the officers left empty handed yesterday.

In addition to the search, 15 employees were interviewed. However, police sources pointed out that no official statement was recorded.

The club is owned by popular businessman Johnny Soong. In the aftermath of the Akon dirty dancing with Alleyne, a national controversy erupted with cries of condemnation against Akon and Alleyne coming from political and religious circles.

Junior National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds took Alleyne to task for the dancing which prompted a stout response from Alleyneís brother Ian, who chastised Hinds for making comments which he (Alleyne) viewed not only as an attack on his sister but also on the nationís youth.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning got involved in the controversy when he called for forgiveness for Danah while Tourism Minister Howard Chin Lee roundly chastised Akonís behaviour.

For their part, the clubís management headed by Soong, came out publicly via a press release stating that the club did indeed make a mistake in allowing underage Alleyne in for the concert but this happened only because the doormen were under enormous pressure on the night of the concert owing to the large amount of people wanting to get into the club.

The club also apologised to Danah and her family for the embarrassment, pain and hurt caused by Akonís behaviour on stage.

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