Voice from the grave
Gajraj introduced me to Axel Williams, others - Bacchus claims in affidavits
June 27, 2004
Months before he was murdered in his bed, death squad informant George Bacchus had told the police that he was invited to the home of Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj, who asked him to supply suspect hitman Axel Williams with information.
This is according to statements he made in one of two sworn affidavits, which were handed over to the police after he was shot and killed in his home on Thursday morning.
The minister has consistently denied Bacchus's allegations, which link him with the death squad. He could not be reached yesterday to comment on the specific allegations detailed in the affidavits.
The affidavits, dated June 11, were drawn up by attorney Basil Williams on the instructions of the self-confessed ex-informant, who claimed to have been a regular visitor to the home of the internal security minister.
One of the statements details his involvement with the group which he said was responsible for the murder of several wanted criminals and others. The other gives his version of the alleged attempt to bribe him, which he had publicly revealed last week.
Bacchus first went public with his allegations about the existence of a death squad and the involvement of the Home Affairs Minister in January, after his brother was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Three people were charged with the murder of Shafeek Bacchus - funeral home owner Ashton King, Sean Hinds and Mark Thomas, also known as 'Kerzorkee.' Thomas died in hospital before the start of the preliminary inquiry, which has been stalled.
In one of the affidavits, George Bacchus said he met the minister in 2002, when he was introduced to him by a friend, for whom only a call name was given.
"[He] took me to Mr Gajraj's home and informed him... that I was in a position to supply information about certain people and activities," he said of his first encounter with the minister. He related that the minister collected his telephone number and promised to get in touch with him. Within three days he received a call from the minister, who he claimed invited him to his home at Lamaha Gardens. There, he was taken to a first-floor office where he was introduced to three men, two of whom he identified as policemen and Williams. Williams has been linked to at least ten murders.
The minister has admitted knowing Williams, though he has not explained their relationship, citing national security reasons.
"Mr Gajraj told me that he may not always be available to receive information from me and that I should pass information directly to the said three men. The men gave me their telephone numbers and after that meeting I began to supply them with information," he said. He also said he had mentioned this to the police in the statement he gave to them about his brother's death.
But he claimed that despite the minister's original instructions he called the minister regularly and supplied him with information and visited his home about three times a week, when they would meet in the office.
Bacchus claimed to be so well known to the security at the house that they allowed him automatic entry into the premises.
He described the minister's office, making note of a glass door with a grill protection. "He had a large desk which had a buzzer under the desk top and when he sat down he faced north. Behind his desk were law books on shelves. He also had a television and a police radio set in his office."
Speaking to the BBC Caribbean Report in January, the minister said he would not deny that Bacchus had been in contact with him on the telephone and otherwise.
Gajraj said Bacchus had repeatedly spoken about the existence of a death squad, but he has consistently maintained that to the best of his knowledge no such a body exists, let alone that he has connections with such a body.
In the same interview, the BBC asked the minister about telephone records revealing his frequent contact with known criminals and he responded: "If you are to get information about criminals, their whereabouts, their activity and all of that, you can't go to the person themselves or a religious minister and get it. There are certain types of people who will be able to provide you with certain kinds of information. The issue of confidentiality has been a big problem with respect to the public at large and the Guyana Police Force. Even George Bacchus has said that he did not want to go and talk to the police for whatever reason, so there are people who might have criminal records who might be in contact with me for the purpose of information. And there are others as well from all walks of life that might have been in contact with me. Not in contact with me as Ronald Gajraj, but because I am the Minister of Home Affairs."
He also confirmed that Bacchus rang him on the night his brother was killed, urging him to arrest several individuals.
In the affidavit, Bacchus testified that on several occasions at a location he identified, he saw many pump action guns and AK-47 rifles that were used by Williams and others. "There were also many bullet-proof vests stored... I also saw a Sterling automatic gun... but I later noticed that the gun was no longer there... I later saw Axel Williams in possession of a similar gun in his car..."
When he asked he was told that the gun had been lent to Williams, whom he always saw with the weapon in the car. One of the other men he named in the statement carried an M-70 rifle and another a Baretta sub-machine gun. He said the men told him they were licensed firearm holders and they carried several small arms as well.
The informant alleged that these men claimed that the men had others who worked along with them and he later learnt their names or aliases and said he could identify them. Apart from Williams, he gave the names and/or aliases of nine other men.
Bacchus said at various times, Axel Williams and another man showed him lists with the names of persons and asked that he inform them of their location if he happened to see them.
"...I later discovered the men on the list were being killed and Axel Williams later confirmed to me that they were doing the killing," he says in one of the affidavits.
"I also know this because [name included] regularly told me about the killing when he visited a girlfriend... who at the time worked not far from where I lived. [He] used to bring her to work in the morning and many days he brought lunch for her there. It was during these visits that he told me about the activities of the death squad."
Bacchus claimed he witnessed one of the men being paid off on one occasion and he said his belief was reinforced by the fact that after most of the killings the men would have a drinking spree at a wine bar.
Bacchus had said that the men targeted criminals, including the February 23, 2002 prison escapees who were thought to have been responsible for a crime wave unparalleled in the history of the country.
He claimed that the group was formed in direct response to the heightened criminal activity.
But even after most of the February 23, prison escapees had been killed, Bacchus said the killing continued and he was again shown a list of names by Williams and someone else and asked to help locate them.
He said he realised that some of the persons whose names were listed were law-abiding citizens, and while some had served time in prison, he said they had turned over a new leaf.
"...I did not provide any information on those persons and in fact warned some of them on the list to be careful and go into hiding," he added.
But the killings still continued and he said he complained to the minister, who promised he would look into it. There were still killings and he named Wesley Jeune, Mukesh Boodhoo, Patrick Gunraj, Terrence Archer, who was known as 'Monkey Nut' as well as another individual he only identified as 'Cartel' as some of the victims.
The ex-informant said when Minister Gajraj did nothing about his reports that the men were still killing, he began to tell people about their activities.
He suspected the hitmen were annoyed because they had started to behave strangely. He grew afraid that they would kill him and decided to tell persons whom he described as "important people."
He explained he did this prior to the murder of his brother, which forced him into hiding.
He said he came out of hiding after the Preliminary Inquiry into the murder of his brother had begun and after the announcement that there would be a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations that there was a death squad operating in the country.
"...I am still afraid for my life because I know that some of the members of the death squad are still at large and may be willing to kill me on... instructions," Bacchus said.