Freedom House occupants not quizzed on McKinnon's death
- Ramotar

Stabroek News
June 27, 2001

Up to now the police have not questioned the occupants of the PPP's Freedom House headquarters on the death of Donna McKinnon on April 9, according to the party's top official.

McKinnon's body was found on a vacant lot just outside of the PPP's headquarters triggering off a host of questions about how she met her demise. Concern was raised in particular about the presence of a gunman in the PPP's headquarters firing at a crowd which had gathered on the road and in the nearby lot.

People's Progressive Party (PPP) general secretary Donald Ramotar told reporters yesterday at a press conference that the police had not questioned the persons who were present at Freedom House on that day. He said that there was no evidence tying anyone at Freedom House to McKinnon's death and he referred to the party's call urging everyone to cooperate with the police in their investigations.

Ramotar, who said that he was also present at Freedom House on that day said that he had not been questioned by the Police.

Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis, had told Stabroek News that he had given instructions that the occupants of the building in the vicinity of the area in which McKinnon's body was found should be questioned.

Lewis in a response yesterday said that he would need to check the file put together by the Criminal Investigation Department to determine whether his orders had been carried out. The file on the investigation is to be turned over to the court following an order to Lewis by Justice Claudette La Bennett. An inquest will then be held.

However, other Police sources have told Stabroek News that the persons who were present at Freedom House had been questioned by the Police but declined to make a statement which is their right.

The sources said too that McKinnon's relatives' reluctance to have the body exhumed for an autopsy stalled plans to bring a pathologist from overseas to conduct another autopsy.

Observers have posited that an autopsy done by an experienced forensic pathologist would have been able to determine whether McKinnon was killed by a bullet fired by gun issued to any of the police ranks deployed in the area that day and the trajectory of the bullet which would have confirmed or dispelled any doubts about whether it had been fired from Freedom House.

The 43?year old McKinnon, a Water Street vendor, died from gunshot wounds to her chest and leg. Her body was found covered with a galvanised sheet in an empty lot at the corner of Robb and Wellington Streets adjacent to Freedom House. She and a number of others had sought refuge there when the Target Special Squad (Black Clothes Police) arrived on the scene with their guns blazing to disperse the crowd which had gathered to witness the fire that had erupted on Robb and Regent Streets. Another person suspected to have been shot about the same time is Ramnarine Bhood who was released from the Georgetown Hospital with a bullet still lodged somewhere between his left hip and spine.

Lewis had previously told Stabroek News that the police were not attempting to cover up for anyone, responding to comments that he knew that McKinnon had not died as a result of shots fired by the Police.

McKinnon's daughters and relatives had expressed reservations about any exhumation of her body for another autopsy by a foreign pathologist. They felt that those arrangements should have been made and carried out before she was buried. They are also suspicious about what information would be obtained from another examination of the body since it was removed without their knowledge from the Georgetown Hospital mortuary to which it was taken and where the autopsy was performed. As yet they have no information as to where the body was taken.

They said that no member of the family was allowed to witness the examination even though they had signed a paper indicating the family members authorised to do so.

When last Stabroek News checked, the McKinnon family has not been provided with a copy of the findings of the autopsy which had been conducted by the Government pathologist. (Patrick Denny)