Chief Magistrate withdraws from Bacchus PI
- cites insecurity
June 22, 2004
REVELATIONS about an alleged death squad hit on the Chief Magistrate’s life may have serious consequences in the coming weeks. Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen, on Friday last, signaled her intentions to recuse herself from presiding over the much publicized preliminary inquiry into the death of cattle farmer Shafeek Bacchus.
Information is that the Chief Magistrate wrote the Chief Justice about the state of affairs and enclosed the case jacket, for transfer to another magistrate.
This latest development in the Bacchus revelation comes in wake of a news item carried on the ‘Evening News’ of June 16. The report contained a statement made by self-confessed informant of the death squad, George Bacchus, that he was present when instructions were given to members of the death squad, which he said included Sean Hinds and Ashton King, to kill the Chief Magistrate.
The names of television personality Roger Moore, Ronald Waddell and the former controversial talk show host, Mark Benschop, were also mentioned in the report, as the other persons identified to be killed by the squad.
Kaieteur News was informed that the contents of the report has seriously affected the Chief Magistrate, especially in light of the fact that no investigation was carried out in relation to past reports by Mrs. Holder-Allen to specific authorities, that some person or persons had been trying to kill her.
The two men, Sean Hinds and Ashton King, who allegedly got instructions to take out the Chief Magistrate, are before her in the hearing of the preliminary inquiry into an indictable charge for the offence of murder of Bacchus’s brother, Shafeek Bacchus.
George Bacchus is a key witness to the murder.
This newspaper was told that in the interest of ‘justice’ the Chief Magistrate requested that the matter be transferred for hearing before another magistrate at this time, since there might well exist a reasonable perception by the public that the two accused may not have a “fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal” before her.
The concern was also raised that there may even exist the perception that Bacchus’s statements were designed to prejudice the Chief Magistrate’s mind against the two accused.
The Chief Magistrate, when contacted could only say that the present situation is very serious.
Attorney-at-law Vic Puran, representing Ashton King, said yesterday that the Chief Magistrate’s move is a worrisome development since the entire case will now have to be quashed and started all over again.
He added that so far, the preliminary inquiry is running smoothly and he is pleased at the considerable progress that has been made. “For all this to go to waste is certainly very disappointing and further delays the matter indefinitely,” Puran contended. The lawyer said that perhaps he would have done the same thing as the Chief Magistrate, had he been in her position.
“If what Bacchus is saying turns out to be true then the society is in dangerous times, but if not, and Bacchus’s credibility is seriously under question and scrutiny, then his client should be set free,” Puran added.
Meanwhile, Adam Harris of the Guyana Press Association had reason to caution the Evening News Editor on what it calls irresponsible reporting. Harris is concerned about the far-reaching consequences of the report and even the credibility of the statement carried.
So far nine witnesses have testified in the P.I., the latest being two detectives.
The matter was last heard on Wednesday June 16 and adjourned to tomorrow.