Inquests ordered into Bacchuses, Ally killings
Stabroek News
February 19, 2002

The High Court has ordered the magistrate assigned to the Corentyne Magisterial District to hold inquests into the unnatural deaths of Azad Bacchus, his son Shazaah Bacchus and nephew, Fadil Ally.

The court has also ordered the commissioner of police to submit to the magistrate, information relating to the deaths of the three men.

Salim Bacchus, a relative of the three deceased, approached the court for orders of mandamus to compel the police to have the inquests held. They were granted on January 11 and made absolute on February 7.

Operatives of the Berbice Anti-Smuggling Squad (BASS) killed the three on August 14, 2001. Reports from the relatives conflicted with that issued by the police after the August 14, incident, which was based on information supplied to the police by the BASS operatives.

Three days later, shots fired by unknown BASS operatives during a public protest outside the BASS headquarters, killed Steven Angel, Janet Best and Saif Ghani. Inquests have also been ordered into these deaths after their relatives moved to the court.

Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj, told Stabroek News that the Director of Public Prosecutions had also advised the police that inquests should be held into the six deaths after reviewing the report of the enquiry which President Bharrat Jagdeo had ordered to be conducted.

It had been anticipated that the probe would have addressed issues such as whether the BASS operatives followed the correct procedures on August 17; whether or not they should have been in possession of firearms when not on patrol; and whether on August 14 excessive force was used on Azad and Shazaah Bacchus and Fadil Ally.

Stabroek News could also get no clear answer as to whether BASS, a unit of the Guyana Revenue Authority, had resumed its patrolling and surveillance activities

which were being carried out by elements of the security services in the aftermath of the shootings.