May 15, 2009 News
By Dale Andrews
Personnel from the United States Probation Department have concluded their interview of confessed Guyanese drug kingpin, Roger Khan, and are expected to present their report to the trial Judge shortly.
Khan had pleaded guilty to 18 counts of trafficking in narcotics and to the 1994 gun running charges in Vermont as well as witness tampering, in exchange for a 15-year sentence in a plea bargain.
It’s been two months since Khan entered the deal and it was expected that a sentencing hearing would have been held by now.
Diarmuid White, Khan’s US attorney who brokered the plea bargaining deal, told this newspaper yesterday that the pre sentencing report has not yet been presented to Judge Dora Irizarry but once this is done, a date for sentencing will be set.
“The Probation Department has already interviewed Mr. Khan. It is not unusual in the United States of America for sentencing to take place long after the plea bargaining deal,” White said.
He explained that when the report is presented, attorneys for the defence and prosecution will get an opportunity to examine it and put forward arguments.
“It’s a very complex procedure,” White stated.
Khan could be held for another two months before the judge makes her decision.
The judge can refuse to accept the conditions of the plea bargaining, depending on the probation report.
In March, Judge Irizarry told the court that if by the time the probation report is presented she could not in ‘clear conscience’ impose the 15-year sentence, then she could and would reject the agreed sentence.
Khan would then have the right to withdraw his guilty plea and proceed with a trial.
But White told Kaieteur News that the defence team is confident that Judge Irizarry will accept the deal.
Khan is fingered in at least two execution-style killings in Guyana and local investigators are awaiting the assistance of their US counterparts.
Police Commissioner Henry Greene had told said that the Guyana Police Force will have to await the completion of Khan’s case before they could be provided with information by US authorities with regards to several murders in Guyana.
This was disclosed in a response from US Ambassador John Jones to a request by Greene for information on at least two murders with which Khan was linked.
There have been calls for investigations to be launched locally, since it was revealed in transcripts of witnesses’ statements that Khan was involved in at least two execution style killings.
According to US court documents Khan was named as the person who ordered the murder of Dave Persaud. He was also fingered in the slaying of boxing coach Donald Allison.
The documents also alleged that Khan was the head of a criminal enterprise.
Khan, by his own admission, had provided assistance to the Guyana Government to hunt down criminals, following the 2002 jailbreak.
Several persons with criminal backgrounds turned up dead or disappeared, allegedly at the hands of a ‘Phantom Squad’ that Khan reportedly headed.
President Bharat Jagdeo, when asked about the possible investigations into the alleged local criminal activities of the confessed drug trafficker, had told the media that the Commissioner of Police was mandated to investigate all such activities in the country.
“The Commissioner has to solve murders here; that’s his job. If he reads the papers and sees that anyone has information on unsolved murder he has an obligation to seek further information because that’s part of his job.
“It can’t be just Jagdeo. I think that he should be dealing with these issues,” the President had stressed.
Meanwhile, the trial of Khan’s former lead attorney Robert Simels has been adjourned to July month end.
Simels is facing charges of obstruction, following a taped conversation in which he allegedly indicated an interest to harm one of the witnesses in the drug trafficking trial of the Guyanese drug lord.
Khan’s new lead attorney had told this newspaper that his client is unlikely to testify in the Simels trial since that was not part of his plea bargaining deal.
“Cooperation (in the Simels case) was not part of the plea bargaining deal. Theoretically, prosecutors could subpoena him but that is highly unlikely,” the attorney had told Kaieteur News, without giving further details.
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