Oct 17, 2009 News
Relatives of self-confessed Guyanese drug trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan expressed relief following the 40-year sentence imposed by a US federal judge yesterday. Khan will however only serve 15 years since the sentences will run concurrently.
Their relief though came amidst disappointment from several others who had flocked the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn with the hope that Khan would have been given a longer jail term.
The division was evident even before the commencement of the sentencing hearing with family members taking up one side of the courtroom, while others took up positions on the other side. Some family members were crying, while his mother, Gloria, bowed her head in prayer throughout the proceedings.
“I just thank God that this is over. It brings peace and I thank God that Roger can continue his life with whatever sentence he has to face. It is God’s grace that was given upon his life,” she told reporters outside the courthouse immediately after the sentencing.
She acknowledged that 15 years is a long time but again thank God that he did not get a bigger sentence.
She said that her son’s brief comments in the court in which he expressed remorse was very touching to her.
“At least he’s in jail and he apologised for the pain that he has put me and the family through and that was a good thing,” she said.
In the courtroom, one family member was overheard describing as lies, the allegations against Khan in letters to the presiding Judge Dora Irizarry. One letter writer described Khan as an animal.
“Those things are expected. There are a lot of people that have good things to say about him but did not come forward,” Gloria Khan stated.
One of his attorneys, John Bergendahl, told reporters that he was concerned about the letters that were sent to the judge with the aim of influencing a greater penalty.
“Those letters are very strong statements so of course I was concerned about them.” The attorney stated that he was concerned about whether the letters were genuine or advancing an agenda by people who are opposed to Khan and “perhaps the PPP Government”.
It was revealed in the court yesterday that one of the letters came from the cousin of Ronald Waddell who was gunned down outside his home allegedly on the orders of Roger Khan.
Bergendahl described Khan as a wonderful client. “He was always a gentleman and he was always considerate. He was intelligent and I was pleased to represent him or anyone like Mr Khan,” Bergendahl said. He however condemned drug trafficking, adding that he would wish that not one grain of cocaine is imported into the United States of America. Another Khan family member said that the government of Guyana should provide a pension to the jailed drug trafficker as compensation for the security he provided for them.
But on the other side, Stedman Aaron was livid at the completion of the sentencing.
Aaron, a Guyanese resident in the United States whose relative was one of the many persons killed during the reign of the ‘phantom squad’, believes that Khan should have been put away for life.
“Bullsht! How can they recommend life for Simels and not the same for Khan? For them (US Prosecutors) this is just another drug case. What Khan has done has affected almost every household in Guyana,” Aaron told this newspaper.
Most Americans who were in the precincts of the courthouse appeared curious when they observed the large press corps interviewing Khan’s attorneys and family members.
Khan’s wife declined to speak to reporters and left the courtroom with her daughter almost immediately after the sentencing. Earlier, Khan had acknowledged the greeting of a family member who urged him to keep faith as he was being whisked away by court marshals.
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