By Dale Andrews
For 17-years Hafiz Hussein has been waiting for his date with the hangman. But even after that long period there are still many who believe that it would have been a grave injustice if fate had been different and that date with the hangman had been manifested.
Those who feel that way are holding on to the adage that, ‘it is better to let 10 guilty men go free than to execute one innocent man’.
More than 100 of them even went as far as signing a petition, protesting Hussein’s conviction and subsequent death sentence.
Hussein’s case also points to some level of corruption on the part of the jury and there is some talk of judicial misappropriation at a certain stage of his trial.
But at the end of it all, it is now only left to the mercy committee and the state as a whole to make him a free man again.
Hafiz Hussein was among four men convicted for the murder of Aubrey Ramsammy called Arnold.
Ramsammy died on September 2, 1993, two days after bandits stormed his Mibikuri, Black Bush Polder, Berbice home.
He succumbed to a shotgun wound on his hand, which was inflicted during the robbery.
Initially, relatives of the deceased had indicated to the police that they did not recognise the attackers since they were wearing masks. But they did indicate that from the appearance of the men suggested that they were “two Negroes and one Indian”.
This was recorded by the police in the initial stages of their investigation. However, despite arresting several persons, the police settled on charging five East Indian men for Ramsammy’s murder and it was suggested that the witnesses (deceased two daughters) were coerced into implicating the five persons who were eventually made to face the court for the murder.
This newspaper spoke to several persons in the Black Bush Polder community and even after 17 years, they were still convinced that the men charged were victims of a certain circumstance.
They claimed that at the time of the murder, Berbice was experiencing a spate of brutal robberies and the police were hard pressed to deal with the situation.
Hafiz said that he was at home with his family at the time of the robbery – a claim that many in Black Bush Polder confirmed.
The following day, as news of the shooting circulated through the relatively small community, like many others he went to the scene and no one pointed any fingers at him.
Late that night he also accompanied the victim’s daughter home and still she did not implicate him in the robbery, although she was one of the eyewitnesses.
So it was to everyone’s shock that Hussein was among several persons detained.
According to affidavits signed by prominent persons in the community, Hafeez was not known to be the type that would commit such acts. But then again, a criminal is not recognizable by his appearance.
This newspaper learnt that Hussein came from a decent family in Mibikuri. His parents were thrifty farmers and owned a grocery shop in the neighbourhood.
Almost all of his siblings are reputable public figures, including his sister who is a respectable Regional Education Officer and church leader.
This led many to question why Hussein would be involved in a robbery of the nature that he was accused of.
At the time of his arrest, Hussein was in charge of a part of his parents’ business, having access to several acres of rice land that was entrusted to him by his father.
Hussein’s sorrowing father ended up talking his own life, apparently because he was unable to face the embarrassment of his son’s conviction.
“His family is praying that an appointment with the grim reaper at the gallows should not ensue because they believe him to be a victim of circumstances which went wrongfully against him,” a prominent Imam of the community later wrote in a petition following his conviction.
Hussein was detained on October 2, 2003, but was only charged after being in custody for several days.
On October2, at around 8:30 hours, a Police Sergeant from the Black Bush Police Station went to his home and invited him to the station.
The officer informed him that he just wanted to take a statement from him, concerning the incident.
He was assured that he would be back home in a few hours.
“When I was about to leave my little daughter said, ‘daddy don’t go.’ I told my wife that I will be back home soon. But I did not know that that was the last day I would be at home with my family,” Hussein recalled.
He soon realized that something was amiss when instead of being taken to the Black Bush Police Station, he was taken to the Whim Police Station, some 13 miles away.
There he remained until September 9 after which he was taken to New Amsterdam.
All the while he was told precious little that would have enabled him to be prepared for the fate that was to befall him.
He believes that all the time he was in custody, a plan was being hatched to frame him.
“The eyewitnesses knew me from the village, so why didn’t they tell the police all the time that I was one of the suspects? They waited for several days before they claimed that I was in their house,” he reasoned.
He recalled that at the identification parade, one of the witnesses bowed her head and shook it while she identified him as one of the suspects.
Hussein and four others were eventually charged with Ramsammy’s murder.
The first suspicions of skullduggery emerged at the Preliminary Inquiry.
(To be continued next week)
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