May 21, 2013 News
– denies torturing him
Under immense pressure to explain why they instituted a murder charge against 26-year-old Chaka Chase, the Guyana Police Force has revealed that gunpowder residue was found on the hands of the suspect in the killing of Police Corporal Romain Cleto.
The revelation was contained in a police response to an article published in yesterday’s edition of the Kaieteur News, under the caption “Police refuse alibi statements for accused cop killer”.
The Force has also strongly denied that its ranks tortured Chase into admitting that he had committed the crime as is being alleged by relatives.
Corporal Romain Cleto was shot dead about 18:45 hours on April 27 last, in the vicinity of Regent Street and Avenue of the Republic, Georgetown.
Recounting the sequence of events that led to the charge against Chase, the Force said that 25 minutes after the killing, Chaka Chase went to the East Ruimveldt Police Outpost and told the police that he had received information that the police wanted him for the murder of the policeman.
This move by Chase was deemed strange since at that time, police investigators were still processing the scene and interviewing persons and they had no information as to any suspect.
Nevertheless, they interviewed Chase and swabbed his hands before releasing him on bail.
Several persons are alleging that at the time of the shooting, Chase was at another location and they have volunteered to give statements to that effect.
But according to reports, investigators had refused to entertain these statements.
The police said that at 17:30 hours on Sunday, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes went to the CID Headquarters, Eve Leary, in connection with the matter and was told to return yesterday, since there was no CID Investigator at the CID Headquarters at the time.
The police stated that on May 15, they obtained a statement from an eyewitness who identified Chaka Chase as one of the persons in the motor car that Cleto’s killers had used.
But there are reports that the eyewitness’ statement was also not freely obtained by the police. Several sections of the media had reported that a Rosemary Lane (Tiger Bay) woman had reported that she too was tortured into implicating Chase.
Police said that in the meanwhile, the laboratory report which was subsequently received also indicated that the swab from Chaka Chase’s hands was positive for gunpowder residue.
“As a result the suspect was rearrested at 18:27 hours on May 16. He was interviewed by police investigators who asked him to explain the gunpowder residue on his hands.”
The investigators, according to reports, also told Chase that an eyewitness had given a statement that he was in the vehicle from which shots were fired that killed Corporal Cleto.
According to the police, at 19:25 hours on May 16, less than one hour after he was rearrested, Chaka Chase gave a confession statement in which he named three associates, one of whom had been arrested previously.
That other suspect who was in police custody also had gunpowder residue on his hands. The police said that information provided in Chase’s confession statement led to the seizure by the police of the motor vehicle that was used by the suspects.
A statement was taken from the owner of the vehicle, who told the police that she gave Chaka Chase the vehicle for similar reasons as that provided in his confession statement.
The police did not disclose the stated reason for which the vehicle was used.
Based on this revelation, there is the suggestion that two persons in the car opened fire on Cleto and his colleagues, despite eyewitnesses’ accounts that the driver of the car had shot at the police ranks.
The police have not yet apprehended that person.
Investigators had recovered two sets of spent shells, some from an AK-47 and some of 9mm caliber.
Initial reports had stated that one of the police ranks had returned fire and he believed that he had wounded the shooter.
Police in their press release yesterday stated that on Saturday last, May 18, Attorney-at-Law Gordon Gilhuys indicated to a police officer that Chaka Chase had been assaulted by the police.
The officer immediately had Chase taken to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre where he was seen and examined by a Medical Doctor who issued a medical certificate that there was no sign of injuries.
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