US revokes McDonald's visa
-former commissioner accuses colleague of lying to embassy
Stabroek News
March 31, 2004

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The United States has revoked the visa of former commissioner of police, Floyd McDonald.

The revocation comes amid allegations that McDonald had knowledge of a death squad formed to hunt and kill criminals.

Sources told this newspaper yesterday that McDonald had been informed his visa had been revoked when he visited the embassy recently.

McDonald has categorically denied the death squad allegations and yesterday lashed out at what he says is an accuser or accusers within the force who have been taking information to a foreign embassy.

The latest action by the US embassy follows action taken against Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj. His visa was revoked soon after the public accusation that he had knowledge of the death squad.

McDonald finally broke his silence yesterday on the death squad allegations, in a statement in which he also distanced himself from known death squad operative Axel Williams and informant George Bacchus as well as from other incriminating reports, which he purported to come from serving members of the police force. McDonald called on these persons to make their facts public.

"I have received information that a serving member(s) of the Guyana Police Force may have advised a certain embassy that I had knowledge of the operations of the death squad/phantom gang," he noted.

"I categorically deny these allegations and am calling on the person to make their facts public and as law enforcement officers do your duty."

He said during his term as commissioner all police operations mounted to capture the Camp Street prison escapees and other criminals linked to them was as a result of intelligence garnered through the "established intelligence gathering apparatuses.

"At no time did the force engage the services of any group outside of the organisation to conduct any operation or to garner intelligence during my tour."

In his statement, McDonald said he never met or spoke with Williams, Bacchus or any of their alleged associates. He also said he never attended any meeting, briefing debriefing or planning session with them and others to plan any crime fighting strategy.

"My previous silence on this matter is not an indication of guilt or any attempt to cover up any illegal activity, because I have not been involved in any," he said yesterday.

"I performed my duties in a professional manner and refuse to indulge in leaking information to the press or giving of false information in clandestine meetings. I am totally annoyed over these insinuations which are an attempt to besmirch my character." McDonald did not address the issue of whether his US visa had been recalled and efforts by Stabroek News to contact him on this issue failed.

And coming out in the former commissioner's defence was Crime Chief Leon Trim, who said he has the utmost respect for McDonald. Trim described McDonald as a professional, honest and upright officer. He added that he had worked closely with McDonald for three years and that he has no evidence that he had at anytime been involved in any illegal act. "Mr McDonald served the force in excess of thirty years and persons should not tarnish his reputation, because he served the force with distinction", he told Stabroek News.

Questioned about McDonald's statement that serving members of the force may be passing information to an embassy, Trim said he has no evidence to support such a statement. He said as a serving member of the force he did not pass any information concerning McDonald to any embassy and he has no evidence to substantiate that officers did any such thing.

McDonald had stayed silent when self-confessed informant Bacchus first surfaced with allegations about the group. Bacchus said the group was formed to hunt the criminals who were behind an unprecedented wave of crime between 2002 and 2003 that saw numerous police officers killed. He credited the group with over 40 murders and implicated several people, including a few prominent businessmen and some people of suspect backgrounds, including Williams.

He also said Home Affairs Minister Gajraj had knowledge about the operation of the group, as did senior officers of the police force.

McDonald's only public statement came almost two weeks after the allegations were publicised, by which time Bacchus went into hiding, fearing for his safety. McDonald issued a statement saying that the police were interested in speaking to Bacchus about the claims but was unable to make contact with him.

Gajraj acknowledged having had contact with Williams but said it was for the purpose of intelligence gathering.

Williams had been approved for a gun licence upgrade by McDonald, despite having killed a food vendor over $20.

When Stabroek News had contacted McDonald for a comment on the letter approving Williams' licence, he would only say that after three decades in the police force he did not deserve to be harassed.