Police intensify probe into Bacchus shooting
--- three in custody charged with his murder
January 17, 2004
THE Guyana Police Force has assured the Guyanese people that it is expediting investigations into the shooting to death of Shafeek Bacchus earlier this month.
Bacchus, a 45-year-old farmer of 76 Princess Street, Lodge, was fatally shot on the sourthern side of Princess Street opposite his home around 19: 30 hours or 7.30 p.m. on Monday, January 5, 2004, allegedly by five men who were in a motorcar.
The three persons held in custody in the initial stages of the investigations were charged yesterday with his murder.
The men - Ashton King, Shawn Hinds and Mark Thomas - were remanded to prison. Thomas did not appear in court; he was said to be ill from "food poisoning."
Attorney Vic Puran, who is representing the accused, said yesterday he was of the view that public pressure was responsible for the three men being charged ahead of the conclusion of investigations into Bacchus's death.
"I trust the public will allow the men to have a fair trial," he said.
Police swiftly narrowed their probe into the Bacchus shooting after Bacchus' brother, George Bacchus, public alleged that the five men in the car meant to kill him, but shot his brother in error.
Bacchus also claimed that the suspects were part of a phantom force, to which the shooting to death of a large number of suspected and known criminals, including four of the five men who killed a young prison officer and permanently wounded a female prison warder while escaping from the Georgetown Prison on Mash Day 2002, has been attributed.
George Bacchus's public allegations, also linking Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj to the "phantom squad," have triggered a wave of calls and picketing exercises outside the Home Affairs Ministry by supporters and executives of the PNC/R.
Some PNC supporters carried placards vilifying Minister Gajraj.
The PNC had long been accused of condoning the killing of policemen and the perpetration of violent crimes - murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robberies, drive-by shootings, carjackings, the beating and torching of victims, and the arson of people's homes and vehicles - after late PNC/R leader Desmond Hoyte said in Buxton that there were "no criminals" using the once-notorious East Coast Demerara village as a criminal haven.
Some people linked to the PNC often referred to the escapees as "freedom fighters" and threatened a bloodbath whenever the police killed any suspected crime gang member in a confrontation.
In a statement yesterday, the Police said investigators visited the scene of Shafeek Bacchus's murder and recovered seven 9mm spent shells and one warhead there.
"These are currently being examined at the Police Forensic Laboratory," said the statement.
The police also said several persons have been contacted as part of their probe and some have given statements.
A file prepared and submitted for legal advice has been returned to the police, urging the Force to conduct further investigations "to clear up a number of issues pertinent to the investigation."
"The investigators are currently in the process of expediting these issues in order that the file could be returned for final legal advice," the police statement added.