Death squad allegations:Gajraj offers to go on leave to allow inquiry
Guyana Chronicle
May 8, 2004

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HOME Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj, at the centre of Opposition allegations about a death squad responsible for several extra-judicial killings, has offered to go on leave to allow an inquiry into the claims.

In a statement released through the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday, he said he was “interested in a speedy, fair and impartial investigation so that the people of Guyana can know the truth…that I…am not guilty of those scandalous allegations.”

He announced that he has asked President Bharrat Jagdeo “to have a mechanism put in place for a fair and impartial inquiry to be done.”

“I am prepared to proceed on leave upon such mechanism being put in place to facilitate a fair and impartial inquiry and to allay fears of interference with the process that warped and corrupt minds may harbour”, he declared.

The main Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and other groups have accused Gajraj of being behind the death squad or phantom gang they claim was responsible for killing several persons, including those linked to a crime wave that began in 2002.

The government has asked the PNCR and others to provide evidence to the police for the basis of setting up an inquiry into the allegations but they have demanded the resignation of Gajraj, mounting several street protests in Georgetown and picketing his house to back their calls.

The minister, a lawyer, yesterday declared that he has “never acted contrary to the laws of Guyana.”

“I have always conducted myself consistent with the powers vested in me by the Constitution of Guyana.

“It was my hope that those who claim to have information to support the allegations, would have by now presented statements and evidence to the only competent authority to investigate such matters - the Guyana Police Force”, he said.

He said he had expected that an investigation would have been carried out so that the truth could have been revealed to the Guyanese people.

“Instead, no such statement was made or evidence provided, thus the Police were unable to mount any investigation”, he noted.

“I am no longer prepared to allow my integrity and commitment to the laws of Guyana to be the subject of a trial in sections of the media and at opposition political meetings.

“If the claim that my presence in the office of the Minister of Home Affairs is forestalling any investigation or probe, then I am willing even to entertain such a weak argument to end this campaign of smear against me and thwart a concerted campaign to bring the entire government into disrepute.”

The PNCR yesterday announced that it and other Opposition parties have written United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan asking him to persuade the Guyana Government to hold an independent and impartial public inquiry into the allegations.

A statement from the PNCR said the letter was signed by party and Opposition Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, Mr. Desmond Trotman of the Working People’s Alliance and Mr. Ravindra Dev of the Rise Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) party.