TUC joins the Bacchus/phantom squad fray
--- Govt. says investigation launched
Guyana Chronicle
January 14, 2004

Related Links: Articles on 'wrong man' death
Letters Menu Archival Menu

GEORGE Bacchus, the brother of slain Shafeek Bacchus, alleged yesterday that Shawn Hinds, the man who surrendered at Brickdam Police Station yesterday, was one of the men whom he saw in a car shortly after his brother had been shot.

Bacchus did not comment on reports that he had fingered Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj as being aware of the existence of a phantom force, but he told reporters at his brother's funeral that he knew Hinds very well.

The claims by Bacchus shortly after the death of his brother on Thursday have led to the PNCR, Guyana Action Party, ACDA and the Guyana Trades Union Congress calling on Government to investigate what they say is official links to a phantom squad.

The calls ignore an announcement by Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon that an investigation has been launched into allegations linking Minister Gajraj with the squad.

Dr. Luncheon said at last week's media briefing that Government was aware of the allegations and was looking into them.

The PNCR also resumed its picketing exercise outside the Home Affairs Ministry on Brickdam yesterday, though fewer than Monday's turnout took part.

In a press statement yesterday, the TUC said it has dispatched a letter "to His Excellency the President calling for an 'immediate, transparent and thorough investigation' into allegations of the existence of an officially-sanctioned Phantom Squad assigned to perpetrate extra-judicial killings at the behest of the ruling political administration."

The TUC statement also echoed one by the PNC, with which many of its top executives are affiliated, calling for the removal of "the incumbent from the position of Minister of Home Affairs."

Shawn Hinds is the third person to have walked in to Brickdam Police Station since Bacchus claimed that he was a squad informant.

The others are Mark Thomas and Ashton King.

Minister Gajraj has pointed to Bacchus's claim as mere speculation and has repeatedly denied complicity with any phantom force.

The demise of most of the country's notorious bandits, including four of five dangerous prisoners who stabbed a young prison officer to death and permanently injured a female prison warder in their escape from the Camp Street jail on Mash Day 2002, has been attributed to the operation of a phantom force.

Guyanese have been able to breath a sign of relief after people began speculating that the police and army were "helped in ridding the society of violent criminals" by an invisible force and by a joint police-army cordon-and search operation in Buxton.