Death squad allegations
Police unable to contact 'informant' for details Relatives say Bacchus keeping low profile
January 23, 2004
Acting Commissioner Floyd McDonald yesterday said that police are trying to contact George Bacchus on his death squad allegations but had not been successful despite five attempts.
The force said it is committed to a "thorough investigation" of the allegations.
Bacchus' relatives last evening told Stabroek News he is keeping a low profile out of fear, two weeks after he admitted in bombshell disclosures that he once used his own money to gather intelligence on criminals for the killing group. He had also said the group was operating with the knowledge of the Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj. Bacchus believes that he was the intended target of an attack, in which his brother, Shafeek, was killed, after he (George) voiced his concerns about the activities of the gang when it began to kill by hire.
George Bacchus' allegations have riveted the attention of the country and sparked widespread debate over the implications of his revelations and how they should be investigated.
"The police view the allegations very seriously and have made several futile attempts to contact George Bacchus," Commissioner McDonald said in a statement issued yesterday, the first by the Top Cop on the chilling story that Bacchus has told to several media houses and the US Embassy.
McDonald noted that police ranks from the Criminal Investigation Depar-tment contacted Bacchus' home on more than five occasions to get a statement to conduct what he called a proper, professional and transparent investigation. However the self-confessed informant has never been available.
As a result, McDonald said he has written Bacchus' attorney requesting that he make his client available to police to give a statement and to facilitate an investigation into the matter.
Bacchus' relatives however say that at the moment he is unavailable for comment but he will appear in court when he is required to testify in the preliminary inquiry into his brother's murder.
Meanwhile, McDonald also said that he was told by President Bharrat Jagdeo that the PNCR leader Robert Corbin may be in possession of information/intelligence relating to the operation of several death squads and the complicity of senior functionaries.
In his letter to the President dated January 15, Corbin says the PNCR's intelligence reports suggest that the revelations made so far are but the tip of the iceberg.
"Indeed, we have received information which suggest that there is more than one of these death squads and that a senior functionary of the police force has been working with the Minister in handling these squads," he wrote in his letter.
McDonald said he has since written Corbin, asking that he makes available whatever information/intelligence that he may possess 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," the Commissioner noted.
Corbin in an invited response yesterday said he would reply to the Commissioner, although he was of the view that the police's new-found interest in the matter is just another "charade" designed to dodge any serious investigation.
Two weeks ago Bacchus disclosed that the execution squad was formed because of the wave of crime which swept the country in 2002, following the February 23rd jailbreak, when five dangerous criminals escaped. A series of robberies and murders, including the targeting of policemen, soon followed.
But later in 2002, several wanted men, including three of the prison escapees, were killed under mysterious but very similar circumstances. Other killings soon followed as suspected criminals and others who are believed to have criminal links were sometimes abducted and later found dead. Despite this, some law enforcement and government officials continued to deny the existence of such squads.
Having already eliminated the persons who were believed to have led the criminal activities, the group began to carry out executions for people who were willing to pay for its services, Bacchus had told Stabroek News.
He himself had left after the death of escapee Shawn Brown, but he still continued to monitor the activities of the group.
He said he was concerned about the contract killings and complained. His concerns were however filtered to the group and his activities were monitored until his brother was killed in the drive-by shooting.
Since his brother's death, Bacchus has visited the US Embassy, where he has given an official statement about the activities of the group and its linkage to the Minister of Home Affairs, several senior policemen and prominent businessmen.
These individuals include senior policemen and several prominent businessmen in-volved in the currency exchange and entertainment industry, who with others provided the squad with financial support and even technical aid in the form of weapons and vehicles.
Bacchus reportedly underwent and passed a lie detector test that was conducted by Embassy officials.
Sources have said that the Embassy is interested in the alleged activities of the death squad, corruption involving government officials, gun smuggling and drug trafficking. (See other story on page 11.)