Guyana Must Probe 'Hit Squad' Claims - UK Envoy
January 29, 2004
Guyana’s government must investigate claims that a Cabinet minister led an extra-judicial hit squad blamed for more than 40 executions in the past year, the British High Commissioner in the country said today.
“We believe that the integrity of the government is something that is at question here,” Stephen Hiscock said on Guyana’s national television.
“We hope that the government would find a way of dealing with these allegations.”
Britain is the third country to address the scandal, which accuses Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj of hiring a hit squad to go after escaped convicts and suspected criminals.
Gajraj has denied the claims.
On Monday, Canada revoked Gajraj’s travel visa, but Canadian officials would not comment on the specific case, saying only it was routine to bar someone facing serious criminal allegations, the Guyanese government said.
United States Ambassador Roland Bullen on Saturday said the US expected Guyana to launch an independent investigation into the claims, which surfaced earlier this month when George Bacchus said his brother had been gunned down by a hit squad operating outside the police force.
Bacchus told the media and US Embassy officials that he had once worked as an informer for the squad under Gajraj.
He said his brother’s killers had likely been targeting him but mistook the two because they looked alike.
The government said it was waiting for Bacchus to give a formal statement before it launches an independent investigation. Bacchus has remained in hiding, saying he fears authorities.
Gajraj, whose ministry oversees the police force, has denied involvement in any hit squad, but said he did have contact with criminal figures in his efforts to gather police intelligence.