Guyana Chronicle
June 28, 2004

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GEORGE Bacchus is dead. His story never reached the Police. Security issues were raised as the reason for Bacchus avoiding the Police. In the early days of the Bacchus revelations, the Police Commissioner reported that ranks from the Criminal Investigation Department, on at least five occasions, unsuccessfully attempted to contact George Bacchus at Princes Street, Lodge, to extract his statement. At that time, too, the Police indicated that they were in dialog with Bacchus' attorney-at-law to acquire his statement. Around the same time, President Bharrat Jagdeo told the Police Commissioner that Opposition Leader Mr. Robert Corbin sent him a letter, detailing that he has information/intelligence on the alleged operation of several 'death squads' and the collusion of senior public officials. Shortly thereafter and this was months ago, the Police Commissioner wrote to Mr. Corbin to hand over any information/intelligence on the Bacchus matter. Mr. Corbin, at that time, never supplied any information.

Broadcast of taped interview
Yet only a few weeks ago, Mr. Corbin had a taped interview with George Bacchus. This interview was televised in Guyana. In the early months of the George Bacchus revelations, Mr. Corbin expressed security concerns for witnesses presenting themselves, including George Bacchus, in this sordid affair, and even advocated for a witness protection program. However, by broadcasting this interview, Mr. Corbin placed George Bacchus at even greater risk. It is interesting to note, too, that it was only on the day that Bacchus was found dead that Mr. Corbin handed over to the Police the tapes and two affidavits of George Bacchus, nearly two weeks after the public broadcast of the interview.

Affidavits of a dead person will have little or no legal weight in a court of law. Why Mr. Corbin, an Attorney-at-Law, then did not deliver the affidavits while George Bacchus was alive, given the security risks surrounding Bacchus? In fact, why Mr. Corbin did not present the tapes as well to the Police, even days after the broadcast and while George Bacchus was alive? Another concern is the television broadcast of the Bacchus interview with Mr. Corbin, given that a Presidential Commission of Inquiry was established. It's possible that the broadcast could be perceived as intended to prejudice the impending Commission of Inquiry's proceedings and any court proceedings underway.

The Police as the law-enforcement agency
Guyana has a law-enforcement agency - the Police. Therefore, some political elements and private media cannot set themselves up as a 'make-shift Police Force in the receipt of formal statements on the alleged 'death squad'. And even if they do receive such statements, the same should be presented expeditiously to the Police. In all of these maneuverings, the opposition forces inclusive of some private media, deprived George Bacchus of due process and equal protection before the law. They have behaved inappropriately and may have to share some social responsibility for the George Bacchus demise.

George Bacchus' statement via a taped interview and affidavits should have been given directly to the Police, and not when he is dead, through a political and media grandstanding process. The criminal justice system has four components: Police, Prosecution, Courts, and Corrections. The Police needs a formal statement to establish ownership of the allegations. The formal statement may lead to interviewing witnesses and provide information that could produce an arrest. The media and political hustlers have, indeed, inhibited Police work on this distasteful affair.

Liability trails
Self-confessed informants, whether criminal or not, generally paint their own liability trails, as their reliability and truthfulness, corroborative capacity, and continuing suitability wane. Their diminished capacity increases their vulnerability.

The media houses last Friday all asked the question as to who killed George Bacchus. The quick answer is that the alleged death squad killed him, and many people will buy this answer. But while most murders are committed by persons acquainted with their victims, clearly, any supposed death squad would not be the only acquaintance that Bacchus would have had. Did Bacchus have other 'significant' acquaintances? If he did, who were they?

In tracking the killer or killers of George Bacchus, it may be useful to point out some other facts about the dimensions of murder. One more fact about murder is that a large proportion of murder victims added substantially to their own deaths. There is an assumption that many murder victims were stuck in circumstances under which they had no control. In at least two out of three homicides in California, the victim first shows direct and/or indirect aggression to his/her subsequent killer. This type of murder is called 'victim-precipitated homicide'. It's a situation where one person may be provoking another person to kill him/her. Indeed, the Police have to consider other variables in their hunt for the killer(s) of George Bacchus. But these are a few important facts about the magnitude of murder.

Media ecstasy
The media and political elements will continue to speculate on the killer(s) of George Bacchus. In this sustained media frenzy on the 'phantom death squad' allegations, the media's political partisan interests are exposed, casting doubt on their credibility, and now to add to their ecstasy, the George Bacchus murder.

However, the principle of seeking out evidence to substantiate allegations must be an important guideline for journalists, as they practice their craft. Let's watch how they perform over the next week. Indeed, some political elements are infused with this media ecstasy and with media operatives. They, too, must be watched, as Police detection unfolds.