Leon Fraser laid to rest
Stabroek News
April 7, 2002

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As controversial in death as he was in life, slain Police Superintendent Leon Mark Fraser was yesterday laid to rest amidst outpourings of sympathy and crude expressions of joy in what can best be described as an emotionally charged occasion.

Beginning early in the day at the Merriman's Funeral Parlour, many onlookers lined the streets, waiting to catch a glimpse of the slain officer, some hurling abusive remarks at both the deceased and his family. This was the first salvo in a verbal assault which was to continue up until the moment of the sealing of Fraser's tomb.

The body arrived at Fraser's Eve Leary home at 1050 hrs, and viewing began almost immediately, as large numbers of family,

friends, colleagues and members of the public gathered to pay their respects. Some members and friends of the Fraser family were unable to control their emotions, breaking down in tears at the sight of the officer's remains. However, with the arrival of more curious onlookers the grief of the mourners was violated by some persons who began to mock the family's displays of sorrow. Fraser's widow, Nadira, visibly disturbed by what certain onlookers were saying, stood at the head of the casket transfixed, while caressing her husband's face, as if to comfort him.

Following the viewing at Eve Leary, the casket was transported to Stanleytown village, West Bank Demerara, for the thanksgiving and burial service. The procession stopped at La Retraite, where members of the disciplinary services honoured the slain officer with an escort to the St Mark's Presbyterian Church. The thanksgiving ceremony, which began at 15:20, was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj, former commissioner of police Laurie Lewis, Commissioner of Police (ag) Floyd McDonald, Director Of Prisons Dale Erskine, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Michael Atherly, Mayor Hamilton Green and other senior officials.

Delivering a tribute to Fraser in the crowded church the Commissioner of Police said that the officer's untimely death would be used as a inspiration as well as a window of opportunity to ensure that law and order would be maintained in the country. He added that no stone would be left unturned to bring the bandits responsible for Fraser's death to justice.

Also delivering a tribute, Gajraj, acknowledged Fraser's lasting contribution to the police force. He described the late officer as a servant of the nation who, along with his colleagues had done what they had to do for the nation's safety, ensuring that we lived our lives without fear. He said that Fraser's many sacrifices would be drawn upon as an inspiration to fight against crime and criminals.

Green, indicated to those in attendance that a street would be named after the slain officer, an intimation which was received by applause from those present.

Following the early departure of wife Nadira and her daughter, the body was taken to the Stanleytown cemetery, where there was a gun salute by ranks of the police force. The casket containing Fraser's remains was finally laid to rest in a tomb next to that of his father.

However, there was still no peace around the gravesite, since an argument then ensued between officers of the Target Special Squad and some members of the family. The officers insisted on throwing ammunition and bottles of Heineken onto the tomb, which some of the family deemed disrespectful. Fraser's former colleagues, however, defended their actions by saying that Heineken had been his favourite drink, and that considering their closeness to him, the gesture was appropriate.

To the distress of the genuine mourners, some onlookers continued to taunt the relatives and mock the deceased even as the casket was being sealed in the tomb.

Brother of the deceased, Michael Fraser, commenting on the crude behaviour of many who attended the funeral, felt that there should have been a greater show of respect. He also said that he was confident that the police would bring the perpetrators of his brother's killing to justice. (Andre Haynes)