U.S. Bars Visits by Guyanese Minister
By Associated Press
February 5, 2004, 10:46 PM EST
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The United States has barred visits by a Guyanese Cabinet minister accused of organizing a hit squad blamed in the deaths of more than 40 suspected criminals last year, an official said Thursday.
The U.S. government revoked [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj's travel visa on Tuesday, less than two weeks after Canada did the same. Neither government would comment on the cases.
"We have had a verbal report from the Americans that the minister's visa has been suspended," Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally said.
Gajraj has been accused by rights organizations and opposition parties of heading an extra-judicial hit squad that targeted convicts and suspected criminals.
The allegations began in December, after businessman Bramma Nandalall said a government minister had put out a contract on him because of a personal disagreement.
The allegations gained momentum after the Jan. 5 drive-by shooting of businessman Shafeek Bacchus.
The victim's brother, George Bacchus, said his brother had been gunned down by a hit squad operating outside the police force under Gajraj. The hit squad has been blamed for more than 40 extra-judicial killings.
Gajraj, whose ministry oversees the police force, has denied the charges, but acknowledged he did have regular contact with underworld figures for "national security" reasons, including gathering police intelligence.