The Bacchus saga
PNCR defends holding on to taped affidavits
Stabroek News
July 2, 2004

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Police Commissioner Winston Felix's admission that the force was unsuitable to investigate the death squad allegations was one of the key reasons why the affidavits of the slain informer George Bacchus were never handed over before his untimely demise.

This is according to PNCR General Secretary, Oscar Clarke who said on Wednesday that party leader Robert Corbin had agreed with the view expressed by the then newlyappointed commissioner.

Felix had reasoned that the fact that policemen had been implicated in the activities of the group militated against a force led investigation.

But Clarke also said the affidavits were being kept as evidence for the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the allegations.

The PNCR was opposed to the commission that was announced by President Bharrat Jagdeo and had said it would not cooperate with it. The PNCR and other opposition parties had complained about not being consulted about the commission in relation to issues such as its terms of reference. They have proposed modifications for the commission though there have been no formal consultations with the government.

President Jagdeo has set up the probe panel to determine if there is any credible evidence against the minister of involvement with a death squad. Clarke said if the headof state had gone ahead with the inquiry, the party would have submitted the affidavits.

The PNCR has been the subject of criticism for not handing over the tape earlier.

"I have wondered why a new reform commissioner of police had been kept so long without this document so vital to a criminal investigation of the highest importance," veteran politician Eusi Kwayana wrote in a letter published in the Stabroek News on Wednesday."The commissioner had said, during Bacchus' lifetime, that he had no evidence. Now it is too late to question Mr. Bacchus and get leads to evidence that supports his allegations. I had thought that those persons in possession of it should hand it over to the responsible authorities," he added.

The party yesterday said such writers appear to be oblivious to the realities of the death squad phenomena and the fact that all the information in Bacchus' affidavit were made public by him and were the subject matter of extensive television coverage.

"One wonders why these previously silent voices that are only now concerned about submission of evidence to the police... were not vocal before his death demanding the independent and impartial inquiry into allegations Bacchus had made since January 2004," the party said.

And it added that irrespective of where the police investigation leads, the administration cannot escape responsibility for the death of the self-confessed informant.