Nov 26, 2016 News
An inquiry into the September 13 discovery of a Colombian-registered aircraft at
Yupukari, Region Nine, is recommending the establishment of a Village Intelligence Committee to help with security in the hinterland.
The disclosure was made yesterday by Brigadier (Retd.) Edward Collins who handed over the final report of the Commission of Inquiry to Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
The Commission was established to probe the circumstances surrounding the discovery of an illegal aircraft near the village of Yupukari, Upper Essequibo-Upper Takutu (Region Nine).
The COI report, which commenced in early October, was originally slated to be handed over on November 16, but an extension was granted on the instruction of President David Granger, following a request by Brigadier Collins.
According to Collins, the decision to host public meetings in several villages such as Katoka, Kaicumbay, Yupukari and other villages, and involving the Regional Chairman and Regional Executive Officer of Region Nine, proved to be a worthwhile exercise, since it allowed for greater insight into the facts discovered during the probe.
Brigadier Collins noted as well that through that process a number of eyewitnesses have stepped forward.
“There has been additional evidence, which has caused us to firm up our findings into the circumstances under which this aircraft came into Guyana illegally. I wish to thank the Toshaos, the senior councils, and the village leaders in nearby villages for their corporation. Since they got involved, there have been more revelations [and] more residents came forward voluntarily. They did their own investigations,” Brigadier Collins said.
Upon further investigations, members of the Guyana Police Force were led to an abandoned camp at Yupukari, which is believed to be connected to persons, who may have knowledge of the aircraft.
“One thing that came out of the inquiry that we did not recognise earlier was the involvement of a woman, and this [revelation] was because of the voluntary evidence presented by the residents.”
He also said that coming out from the meetings was a recommendation for the setting up of a Village Intelligence Committee, where Toshaos and other village leaders can pass on information on any suspicious activity to a relevant authority.
However, the retired Brigadier added that the maintenance of public trust would be critical to ensuring that villagers are forthcoming with such information.
Meanwhile, Minister Harmon said that the report would provide valuable insight into the security framework, particularly in the hinterland regions.
“This report will form the basis of a careful analysis of our security architecture and will advise on as to what forms of security action we need to take to ensure that our territorial integrity is preserved and that the security of our citizens in those hinterland areas is properly taken care of,” he said.
On September 13, 2016, a plane, bearing registration number N767Z, was first brought to the attention of officials by residents of the area.
A Joint Army and Police team, inclusive of Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), was dispatched to the location to conduct investigations launched into the sightings of the aircraft. The COI was appointed on September 28, 2016.
The aircraft was later determined to be registered in Colombia. It is believed to be linked to the drug trade.
The aircraft has since been repaired and flown to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
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