Police probe of phantom allegations awaiting written statement
Stabroek News
January 18, 2004

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The police are likely to investigate the 'phantom squad' allegations made against Home Minister, Ronald Gajraj, as soon as they are made available in writing.

The Cabinet has issued no formal statement on the widely reported allegations made by George Bacchus of the involvement of Gajraj with members of a phantom gang, which has been responsible for a number of killings in recent months. However, Stabroek News understands that the view of the Cabinet was to let the police conduct investigations into the allegations made against Gajraj. However, how quickly they get off the ground depends how quickly the allegations made against Gajraj are made available to the police in writing.

The Cabinet met on Friday and the issue was raised as Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon had indicated that the Bacchus' allegations were sufficiently serious to attract its attention. In the absence of a statement, Dr Luncheon is expected to deal with the issue when he hosts his weekly post-Cabinet briefing this week. Bacchus made the allegations after his brother Shafeek Bacchus was gunned down across the road from his Princes Street, Lodge, residence. Bacchus believed that he was the intended target. Three of the alleged gunmen were on Friday charged with Shafeek Bacchus' murder. They are Ashton King, a city undertaken who operates the A&D Funeral Home and Shawn Hinds and Mark Thomas, former members of the Guyana Police Force. Only King and Hinds appeared in court on Friday as Thomas reportedly collapsed at the Brickdam Police Station when told that he was being charged with murder.

The opposition PNCR during last week picketed the Home Affairs Ministry calling on Gajraj to resign. They are also refusing to participate in any official function at which Gajraj is present and have walked out of a parliamentary committee meeting at which he was present. It is not certain if this will extend to sittings of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, a number of letters have been appearing in press in support of Gajraj as well as others calling for an investigation into the allegations. The Bar Association has also called for an independent inquiry and cautioned against any rush to judgment.