Police says committed to launching 'phantom gang' allegation probe
--- urge contact by George Bacchus
Guyana Chronicle
January 23, 2004

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THE Guyana Police Force is committed to launching an investigation into allegations leveled against Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj and the existence of a phantom squad.

President Bharrat Jagdeo meeting with the Vice President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Mr. Guillermo Rishchynski (on the President's left) at the Office of the President yesterday. In photo also are the Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Mr. Serge Marcoux and officials of CIDA and the Ministry of Finance. (GINA Photo)
That's the word from Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald.

In a statement he issued to the media yesterday, Commissioner McDonald said the police view the allegations seriously.

But several attempts to contact Bacchus have been futile.

"On more than five occasions ranks from the Criminal Investigation Department contacted the residence of George Bacchus at Princes Street, Lodge, for the purpose of getting a statement from him so as to conduct a proper, professional and transparent investigation, but he was never available. Efforts are still being made to contact him," the Commissioner said.

George Bacchus spoke to the PNCR and the media the day after his brother Shafeek Bacchus was shot to death near his Princes Street home on January 5. Among other things, he alleged that the men who are charged with Shafeek Bacchus's murder are members of an existing phantom squad and that Minister Gajraj was linked to the squad.

But after several days of speaking to the media and sparking a wave of anti-Gajraj campaign by the PNCR, Bacchus accused some sections of the media and the main opposition party of turning his allegations into a partisan political blitz.

He has since refused to speak with the media.

Police Commissioner McDonald said he has written to Bacchus' Attorney-at-Law "requesting his assistance in making his client available to the Police for a statement to be taken and an investigation conducted into the matter.

"I have been informed by His Excellency the President that the Leader of the People's National Congress/Reform, Mr. Robert Corbin, wrote to him suggesting that he has information/intelligence in relation to the alleged operation of several 'death squads' and the complicity of senior functionaries. I have since written to Mr. Robert Corbin requesting that he makes available to me whatever information/intelligence that may be in his possession in order to facilitate a thorough, professional and transparent investigation.

"I have assured Mr. Corbin that whatever information/intelligence he might make available to me will be dealt with in a strictly professional manner.

"I am awaiting a response from Mr. Robert Corbin as well as from George Bacchus's Attorney-at-Law.

"The Guyana Police Force is committed to conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations."