Commission of Inquiry will go on
- Luncheon
Guyana Chronicle
June 25, 2004

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DESPITE the demise of self-confessed informant George Bacchus, the government intends to proceed with the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of involvement of the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Ronald Gajraj with a so-called death squad.

At his weekly press briefing yesterday, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon reiterated the government’s commitment to proceed with the inquiry.

Responding to a query on how the killing of Bacchus would restrict the investigations by the Commission of Inquiry, he replied: “…from the statement and concerns and the information that flowed over the period since his (Bacchus) revelations, I would want to believe there still exists a considerable amount of information, and definitely a commitment of the government and the (Opposition) PNCR to get to the root of the matter.”

Gajraj has denied allegations by Bacchus and Opposition groups that he was involved in the death squad blamed for the killing of several known dangerous criminals and has offered to go on leave to allow an impartial investigation into the claims.

President Bharrat Jagdeo last month appointed a commission to look into the allegations.

Luncheon said the delay in starting the work of the commission was connected to consideration of the constitutionality of the appointment of one of its members, as well as addressing matters pertaining to the terms of reference of the inquiry.

He said too that Cabinet took note of a statement to the media by the main Opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) on the shooting to death of Bacchus yesterday morning.

The PNCR in a statement on the issue accused the government of a clear attempt to “cover its tracks and to scare away other potential witnesses.”

Luncheon in rejecting the PNCR’s claim declared, “This statement is reckless and provocative.”

“The PNCR has started another round of unfounded allegations. The PNCR should provide information it claims it has to the police and the public about today’s episode, instead of making inflammatory and unfounded accusations”, he urged.

He further stated that Cabinet is urging all parties with information surrounding the incident to cooperate fully with the law enforcement authority in its investigations and calls on the public to ignore wild speculations and irresponsible uttering of the opposition.

Asked whether police protection would not have been automatic for George Bacchus, he declined to provide a definitive position, saying that such a matter was under the purview of the Commissioner of Police.

Bacchus was found dead at his Princess Street, Georgetown home early yesterday morning with bullet wounds to the head and the body.

Following the shooting to death of his brother, Shafeek Bacchus earlier this year, George Bacchus alleged that his brother’s death was the work of a death squad with which Gajraj was involved.

Recently, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament, Ms. Shirley Edwards said Bacchus told her he made the allegation against the minister out of anger because he did not act promptly on information concerning the death of his brother, Shafeek.