After four years remains finally buried
Lindo Creek massacre…
After four painstaking years, the remains of the eight miners killed at Lindo Creek under the most controversial circumstances were finally laid to rest.
But the final chapter on one of Guyana’s most heinous crimes is still to be written as lingering questions remain unanswered.
Yesterday, the remains of Dax Arokium, his uncle Cedric Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres were packed into three coffins and laid to rest in three separate graves in Le Repentir Cemetery.
This was after a brief but moving ceremony at the Lyken Funeral Parlour which was attended only by the parents of Nigel Torres, two policemen, several media operatives and a few employees from the parlour.
The decision by the state to bury the remains was taken after other relatives refused to accept them, despite repeated requests by the police.
Yonette Torres was inconsolable as she held on to the box bearing her son’s name, although she could not be sure if his remains were indeed in it. In fact no one knew for sure whose remains were in which coffin.
There are reports that a request was made for the remains to be divided up and placed into eight coffins, but according to a reliable source, the administration of the Guyana Police Force, which was the body that had taken responsibility for its disposal, had insisted that only three coffins be used.
This was after spending in excess of $40M (or $700,000 per month) to store the remains until the DNA tests that were being conducted in Jamaica were completed.
The DNA results should have been handed over by January 2012, but Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee had said that notwithstanding the commitment given by the Jamaica Forensic team, they had not delivered.
“They had promised us to deliver the remainder of the analysis, but they have not delivered. We are in touch with them and we are assured that their results will soon be available,” Rohee had stated.
He had also justified the amount being spent by the administration to store the remains of the Lindo Creek victims.
The Minister pointed out that the remains are very important to the families as well as the integrity of the investigation.
“The integrity of these remains is important for any further analysis and if it costs a million dollars a day to ensure proper storage we have to do it,” the Minister had declared.
Rohee added that his Government and the police would have come under more scrutiny if they had failed to properly store the remains.
“If we were not doing that (storing the remains at a parlour) and these remains were left stored in a box where rats and cockroaches were interfering with it, we would have been worse off and we would have been accused of being delinquent,” Rohee added.
“This is the price we have to pay if we want serious results.”
But Yonette Torres is less than convinced that everything was done by the administration to bring closure to the saga that has been eating away at her heart for the past four years.
She desperately wanted to look at the remains in the coffins but was obviously prevented by parlour officials who explained that such a proposition would be unwise.
“They never called us to see,” she said, adding that four years ago, the police passed her home at Kwakwani with the remains and didn’t even allow her to see them.
“They are so compromised. They don’t want nobody see it,” she cried as she was restrained by her husband and parlour employees.
Mrs. Torres and her husband had traveled all the way from Kwakwani for yesterday’s occasion after they were informed by the police that the remains would have been buried yesterday. She was not happy with the way the matter of the burial was handled, making it even more difficult for her and the rest of her family.
“I didn’t have any money and they gave me six thousand dollars alone to travel to town. That could not do for us because we had no money to buy any snack while we were in Georgetown and they say they were going to give us passage to go back,” Yonette Torres lamented.
She was adamant that she still needs answers to the heinous crime that took her son’s life.
But for Nigel Torres Sr., yesterday brought an end to the episode.
“I am satisfied, that’s why I come and see he bury,” the elder Torres said.
On June 21, 2008, dredge owner Leonard Arokium discovered the charred remains of eight of his employees in a burnt-out camp at Lindo Creek, Berbice River.
Of course there is still controversy over who actually killed the miners, with the owner of the camp and the security forces coming up with different theories.
Leonard Arokium claimed that he had received a phone call from a woman who told him that “some soldiers” had shot and killed his men and burnt their bodies.
The Joint Services categorically denied the claims made by the dredge owner that soldiers committed the brutal crime.
Police had blamed the attack on Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and his gang, whom they said they had encountered during a confrontation at Christmas Falls a few weeks prior to the gruesome discovery.
Rawlins and members of his gang were subsequently hunted down and killed, and the security forces had eseentially intimated that the Lindo Creek case had died with them.