May 29, 2013 News
-victim wants independent probe
By Dale Andrews
Just one week after the police denied allegations that they tortured a murder suspect to sign a confession statement, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has commenced an investigation.
Kaieteur News understands that the Commissioner of Police (ag) Leroy Brumell has instructed that the head of the OPR, Retired Assistant Commissioner Mohamed Jameer spearhead the investigations into allegations made by both Shaka Chase and Natasha Blackman.
But from all indications, the investigations are already on rocky ground since there are reports that the victims are not too inclined to cooperate with police investigators.
Chase, who was charged with the murder of Policeman Romain Cleto, and subsequently released after the intervention of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), had claimed that he was subjected to electric shocks and had a liquid substance poured down his throat by investigators who then forced him to sign a confession statement.
Blackman alleged that she too was subjected to electrical shocks and was forced to sign a statement which claimed that she positively identified Chase as one of the occupants of the car that was used by the policeman’s killers.
The police had quickly denied the allegations in a statement a few days before instituting the murder charge against Chase.
The police in their statement issued on May 20, said that on Saturday, May 18, attorney-at-Law Gordon Gilhuys indicated to a police officer that Shaka 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.”
However, immediately after his release last week, Chase was seen by a private doctor and is presently on medication for what has been described as internal injuries.
According to a source, Chase is scheduled to revisit the doctor at the end of this week.
“No one knows what the liquid substance was that he was made to drink,” the source said.
Social activist Mark Benschop who spoke to this newspaper yesterday, on behalf of Chase, said that the former murder accused is very concerned about the operations of the Guyana Police Force.
“At this point he is concerned about cooperating. If there is going to be an investigation, it must be done by an independent body. He doesn’t feel that he will get any form of justice. He wants to give his statement, but will only give it to independent investigators,” Benschop told this newspaper yesterday, adding that Chase has opted to leave the matter in the hands of his lawyers.
Only recently, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee had stated that even though the allegation of torture is just what it is, “an allegation,” it is one that must be investigated. He said that there has been no medical certificate showing signs of torture to solidify the claims being purported by Chase’s relatives.
But even with that said, Rohee reiterated that “every allegation should be investigated” and stated that the Police, as a professional body, will see the reality of an investigation into the claims.
Meanwhile, a leading legal mind in Guyana is convinced that the investigators in the Guyana Police Force did not carry out the investigation into the policeman’s murder with an open mind. He was basing his view on reports that statements from persons, which supported Chase’s claim that he was somewhere else at the time of the shooting, were not accepted by the police.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud has claimed in another section of the media that the DPP was in “possession of statements from Chase’s attorney Nigel Hughes ‘which we did not have at the time’.”
This newspaper had reported that the police had refused to accept the statements of the persons who provided an alibi for Chase.
The DPP in response to a query from this newspaper yesterday stated “a perusal of all the statements (40) contained in the matter of State vs Shaka Chase revealed that the information gathered during the investigations was insufficient to properly identify the shooter and/or his accomplices.”
When pressed by this newspaper as to how much weight was given to the confession statement that was allegedly given by Chase, especially since he claimed he was tortured to sign it, a source in the DPP’s Chamber stated that “all statements were given due and proper consideration.”
The statements also included one from the police which stated that gunpowder residue was found on Chase’s hand.
According to a legal authority, “the police were conducting an unfair investigation.
“They were not investigating with an open mind, they were investigating with a goal in mind,” the source said.
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