Allegations led to Gajraj US visa recall
February 6, 2004
The death squad allegations made against Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj led to the revocation of his US visa, high-level sources say.
However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rudy Insanally told Stabroek News yesterday that like the Canadian High Commission, the US embassy has not given any detailed reasons for its action, merely citing the regulation under which it was done. However, he said that like the Canadian High Commission, the US embassy said Gajraj has been informed of the reasons for the withdrawal of his visa.
And like the Canadian High Commission, the US embassy has assured that its action is not intended to be seen as a sanction on some wrong the minister might have committed.
US embassy officials have refused to comment on the issue and Gajraj could not be contacted by Stabroek News for comment.
Stabroek News was reliably informed that the US government withdrew Gajraj's visa as well as that of his wife earlier this week as much as a result of the allegations levelled against him by George Bacchus as of the government's lack of action in mounting an investigation to determine whether or not they were factual. Stabroek News understands that if an investigation finds the allegations were without merit the US government would be prepared to review its decision.
Thus far, the government's position is that it will not ask the minister to stand aside and that informant George Bacchus must make a detailed statement to the police before the force begins any probe into the death squad allegations.
For the British High Commission, the visa issue is a non-starter as officials there say that Gajraj has not applied for, nor is he the holder of an entry certificate to the United Kingdom. Last month, British High Commission Steve Hiscock told reporters that his government's concern is for the allegations to be resolved to the satisfaction of the Guyanese people.
Bacchus' allegations of Gajraj's link to an execution gang were made in statements to the media and officials at the US embassy after his brother Shafeek was gunned down outside his Princes Street Lodge home on January 5. Bacchus believed that he was the intended target as he had been complaining about rogue members of the phantom gang formed to hunt down Andrew Douglas, Troy Dick, Dale Moore, Shawn Brown and Mark Fraser, whose escape from the Georgetown Prisons on February 23, 2002 set off a wave of violent criminal activity in Georgetown and the lower East Coast Demerara. Bacchus is yet to give a statement on the death squad allegations to the police though some advocates have said that the police should have sought one from him when he visited the police in relation to his brother's death.
The allegations have sparked calls for Gajraj's resignation as well as for an independent inquiry into the claims. Among the organisations which have called on Gajraj to resign are the PNCR, the Working People's Alliance, ROAR and the African Cultural Development Association. The PNCR is not participating in any event in which Gajraj is present in his official capacity.
The government is insisting that Bacchus make a formal statement to the police, which under the constitution is the only institution authorised to conduct criminal investigations. President Bharrat Jagdeo has said too that there is not a shred of credible evidence to implicate Gajraj in the activities he is accused of being involved in.
The PNCR wrote to CARICOM Chairman, Jamaica's Prime Minister PJ Patterson in an effort to have the matter addressed when he and some of his colleagues met Haiti's President Jean Bertrand Aristide in Jamaica last weekend. However, Stabroek News understands that the issue was not discussed as the meeting was dedicated solely to the discussion of the situation in Haiti.