Princes St drive-by killing
Suspect pointed out in ID parade Police searched alleged torture den
Stabroek News
January 16, 2004

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One of the three men in custody in connection with the drive-by killing of Shafeek Bacchus two Mondays ago was pointed out by a witness at an identification parade yesterday, sources say.

The police are likely to conclude their investigation today and up to yesterday all three remained in custody, as the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday returned the file to the police requesting further information.

As a result of a request, sources told Stabroek News yesterday, an identification parade was held in which a witness identified one of the men.

Bacchus' brother, George, has said that the men responsible for his brother's death two Mondays ago were seen in the car from which the bullets emanated. George Bacchus has refused to attend an identification parade or confrontation arranged by the police stating that he knew the men - one of them for 20 years - and there was no need for any confrontation.

The three men in custody are said to be two former members of the police force and a city undertaker.

Bacchus, who has visited the US embassy several times since making bombshell allegations that a death squad existed, has given detailed statements to embassy officials about the activities of the group and individuals with connections to it.

These individuals include senior policemen and several prominent businessmen involved in the currency exchange and entertainment industry, who with others provided the squad with financial support and technical aid in the form of cars and weapons.

Bacchus's disclosures leave the government facing many serious questions because he has also said Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj had knowledge of the gang's activities. But the minister has maintained that he has no knowledge of the existence of such a gang, let alone connections to it. Cabinet is likely to meet today to discuss the furore over the allegations, government sources said yesterday.

Bacchus said he was the intended target of the drive-by shooting, since he was once an informer for the group but started to complain when its members started killing persons whom others wanted wiped out. The men became paid killers for several persons, according to Bacchus. Sources say that Bacchus took a lie detector test at the US embassy and passed it.

Meanwhile, the employer of one of the men held in connection with Shafeek Bacchus' murder says he does not believe the man is responsible for that or any other murders committed. The man has been linked to the death squad and George Bacchus has named him as one of the gunmen in the car.

However, owner of Auby's Wine Bar at the corner of Norton and George streets, Aubert van Sertima, is 99% convinced that the man is not involved in anything illegal. He says he has known the man since he was a child and has been working with him since 1987.

Van Sertima, who arrived in Guyana from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, says he came to clear his employee's name. According to the man, his employee may be guilty by association but he cannot see him committing murder.

He says when he was in the country last September he had observed a group of men in a white car outside his bar with machine guns and when questioned his employee told him that the men were a minister's bodyguards. The men drank beers in front of the bar but did not enter.

He said since his return on Wednesday he has been hearing rumours that two of the men, who were outside his bar in September, are in police custody with his employee. He told Stabroek News that he has also heard all kinds of sordid stories about his employee being involved in several murders, which he does not believe. "It really does not make sense. Why would he want to be involved in such acts?" It cannot be for money because he is in want of nothing."

However, the man said that while he hopes his client would be cleared of the current allegations, the scandal has destroyed his business and he will have to close it temporarily. He also said he would not have the man function at his business any longer but would not stop associating with him.

Van Sertima said before he opened the bar, he had a boat business and the man worked for him. That business dissolved and he bought the building in which the bar is now housed in 1997.

George Bacchus, in statements, has described the bar as being the torture house where the squad took victims before killing them. Van Sertima said the police have since searched his business premises and no evidence was found to support Bacchus' story. He said persons are only speculating and calling names all around without any facts.

According to van Sertima, his employee did not have time to run around killing people since he ran a 24-hour service. He explained that apart from the bar, the building also housed accommodation for persons.

While he is prepared to hire a good lawyer to clear the man's name, van Sertima says he needs to speak to the man first to find out whether he knows anything about the reports being circulating.

He described the man as being tall and very heavy and one who does not smile. "He has a big belly and he too bloody old to be running around shooting people. I cannot see him doing that. You have to see that man and you will realise that those stories cannot be true."

The man said he rang his employee on Friday and Saturday and after not getting any answer he contacted a taxi service opposite his business and was told that his employee was in custody over the murder probe. "This is the first I heard of it. I was told that Bacchus went to the bar and accused him of being responsible for the murder and he went to the Brickdam Police Station to report it when he was arrested by the police. I don't understand how he is still in custody, it has been almost a week and he is not charged," van Sertima said.

Van Sertima, who is here for the next four weeks, described his employee as someone who is kind and always helpful.