Death of Bacchus accused
Autopsy fails to find cause Further testing to be done
By Samantha Alleyne
February 5, 2004
An autopsy on the body of murder accused, Mark Thomas, yesterday morning failed to determine what he might have died from.
Thomas' sudden death on Sunday raised suspicions considering the explosive death squad allegations surrounding him and others following the murder of cattle farmer Shafeek Bacchus.
Stabroek News understands that Dr Nehaul Singh, the government's pathologist who performed the post-mortem examination, was unable to find what caused the man's death. The autopsy was observed by pathologist Dr Edward Simon on behalf of Thomas' employer, Aubert Van Sertima, who is his only relative even though they are not related by blood. Van Sertima has known Thomas all his life as his grandparents took care of the man after his mother abandoned him.
Police confirmed yesterday that the post-mortem was done, but did not divulge any further information.
Reports reaching this newspaper stated that Dr Singh took specimens from the man's body for further examination.
Dr Simon was said to have taken samples from 12 different parts of Thomas' body and recommended that they be sent to a laboratory in Miami.
Van Sertima told Stabroek News that he was prepared to send off the samples yesterday afternoon via DHL Worldwide Express but the police took possession of them informing him that they would keep the samples frozen and would decide who would send them off to which laboratory. He said he was prepared to bear the cost if the samples were sent off yesterday but was now leaving the matter in the hands of the police.
Stabroek News was told that Dr Singh's results and the ones from overseas will be put together to ultimately determine what the man died from. It was reported that the two doctors have an idea as to what the man might have died from but wanted this to be verified before making a pronouncement. It was stated that poison was not ruled out as the cause of death.
Thomas, popularly known as `Kezorkee', reportedly had his last meal shortly before he died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) on Sunday night.
Many had speculated that the man might have suffered a heart attack, but the post-mortem ruled this out, as nothing was found wrong with his heart.
Van Sertima yesterday said that Thomas will be laid to rest tomorrow and a funeral service will be kept for him at the A&D Funeral Home. The man's co-accused Ashton King owns the parlour and the two along with Shawn Hinds were charged with the January 5 drive-by killing of Bacchus. They were charged after the man's brother, George Bacchus, alleged that they were the shooters. Bacchus has since stirred a raging controversy with allegations about the operation of a death squad.
Van Sertima yesterday said as far as he concerned the "books are closed" adding that he would leave the police to carry out any investigation, as it was their work and not his.
The man said he no longer wanted to discuss the episode as it has been a very traumatising experience for him and his entire family even though they are not in Guyana. He said there was nothing else he could have done as he did all he could. The man returned to Guyana from Saudi Arabia, where he works and lives, after Thomas was arrested in connection with the murder and an allegation was made about him being part of a killing squad responsible for the deaths of a number of men.
Van Sertima said at the time of his return that he was on a mission to clear his employee's name, since he believed him to be innocent of any wrongdoing. He felt the only thing he did wrong was to 'hang out' with the wrong people.
It was alleged that the death squad members used Van Sertima's place - Auby's Wine Bar, which was managed by Thomas - as a torture house. However, Van Sertima said the police searched his bar and found no evidence to substantiate this. He had told Stabroek News that when he was in Guyana last year he had seen Thomas speaking to men with machine guns, who were in a white car drinking beer in front of the bar.
He said when he enquired, he was told the men were bodyguards for a minister. Thomas subsequently told Stabroek News from his hospital bed that the men were in fact policemen.
The man yesterday said he has a very good idea what his employee would have died from but was leaving it up to the police to do their work and for the justice system to take its course.
Stabroek News was told by a police source on Tuesday that they were treating Thomas' death as an "unnatural death for now" until the results of the post- mortem. When the man died, Van Sertima had questioned why the police had not secured the area where he was and taken possession of the items since he might have been poisoned. When questioned about this, the officer told Stabroek News that if the man were poisoned then the evidence would be in his body.
Van Sertima told Stabroek News that Thomas was a father of five children; two overseas and three in Guyana and he was hoping that something could be done to help the three children in Guyana.
Thomas, who was hospitalised since January 16 after collapsing when he was told he was charged with murder, was said to be suffering from hypertension.
On the day he died, Thomas reportedly fell asleep after eating and awoke frothing from the mouth before suffering convulsions and begging for a drink of water. He crashed to the ground, breaking his arm which was handcuffed to the bed and died.
The man was said to be an emotional wreck who craved an audience and would tell anyone who listened his life history.
Van Sertima said that after burying Thomas he would leave Guyana and did not think he would come back after all that has happened.