Gajraj must go, credible probe set up
-Corbin tells Top Cop
January 24, 2004
Once the Home Affairs Minister demits office to avoid interference in an independent investigation, information about the existence of a death squad would more likely be released, PNCR leader Robert Corbin told acting Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald yesterday.
Corbin said the establishment of an independent investigative body and the resignation of Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, who is said to have been aware of the squad, are prerequisites before any action can be taken.
Corbin was responding to a letter written to him by the commissioner, who requested that Corbin provide any information in his possession about the operation of several death squads and the complicity of senior functionaries. McDonald, who said the information was needed to facilitate a thorough, professional and transparent investigation, made the request following a letter which Corbin penned to President Bharrat Jagdeo.
"Indeed, we have received information which suggests that there is more than one of these deaths squads and that a senior functionary of the police force has been (helping) in handling these squads," the opposition leader wrote in that letter.
But he pointed out in the letter to McDonald yesterday that the concerns which he expressed to the President were over the apparent existence of a death squad which operates as hired murderers. He also said he was concerned about the allegations that surrounded the home affairs minister in this respect. Corbin said yesterday he refused to believe that the commissioner, being responsible for the security of the nation, was unaware of these serious claims and others that have been ventilated in the public.
"Instead of wasting time... you should be carrying out your constitutional mandate of spearheading proper policing efforts to compile evidence that we all know is available and already in the public domain," he urged the commissioner.
On Thursday, McDonald sought Corbin's help to open investigations into the allegations that have been made by self-confessed ex-informant for the gang, George Bacchus.
In his first public statement on the issue, McDonald said the police are trying to contact Bacchus to investigate the allegations which first surfaced after his brother, Shafeek, was executed but have been unsuccessful.
Bacchus' relatives told Stabroek News he is keeping a low profile out of fear and is unavailable for comment.
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.
Bacchus has alleged that the home affairs minister was aware of the activities of the group as were some senior functionaries of the police force and several prominent businessmen, who provided financial and technical support to the group. However, an official investigation has not been initiated as government says Bacchus is yet to give a statement to local authorities. He has given statements to the US Embassy and members of the local media.