Jul 28, 2017 News
…as COI into plot to assassinate President continues
The credibility of the news provided by popular television news anchor, Travis Chase, was up for questioning yesterday. He was called to the stand to testify in the Commission of Inquiry, (COI) into the plot to assassinate President
Chase, a news anchor and Editor at HGPTV Nightly news had interviewed the man who filed the report, Andriff Gillard.
The plot had detailed a bounty of $7M was offered to kill President Granger some time in 2015. Gillard had claimed that he went to borrow $6M from a businessman, said to be gold miner. Instead, the businessman offered $7M.
But the credibility of his story has been up for debate by some top ranking officials of the Guyana Police Force.
In his testimony before the Commission recently, Police Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, noted that Gillard had been “shifty” with the information he provided to investigating ranks.
As a result, a recommendation was made for Gillard to be charged for supplying the police with false information.
Yesterday, the popular television reporter’s credibility was also a source for questioning by Attorneys attached to the Commission. The commission is intended to investigate the persons, places, times, circumstances and events by, and through which, allegations and reports were made of a plan to assassinate him.
Chase took the stand around noon and detailed to the commission his involvement in the matter. His report led to the arrest of persons involved in an alleged plot to kill the President.
He faced a slew of questions from retired Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang and Attorney- at- law, Christopher Ram. Chase’s lawyer, Selwyn Pieters was also present.
The questions posed by retired Chief Justice Chang ranged from whether Chase had “an axe to grind” with members of the Guyana Police Force to whether he was ever convicted for any crimes before.
In response, Chase said that he was convicted before but he had no axe to grind with the police.
He said that he has good working relations with ranks of the GPF, some of whom he referred to as “contacts.”
Chase told the commission that on numerous occasions, the police would contact him for information on those persons that may be of interest to them, such as Sean Hinds and Barry Dataram.
While on the stand, the witness revealed that as a result of his access to these persons, he found that he was being watched by the police.
At one point, Chase said that police ranks staked out the HGPTV Nightly news headquarters because it was believed that he was harbouring a wanted man there.
In response to questions from the Commission, Chase said that he had reasons to believe that Gillard’s story was truthful.
Given his experience as a reporter, the witness recalled that he had done some investigation to verify Gillard’s information before the matter could have been aired on the television newscast.
Chase said, too, that based on his interaction with Gillard and what he knows of the investigations, he believes that the matter was the subject of a cover up by members of the Guyana Police Force.
The News Anchor also read a statement detailing his involvement in the case to the commission.
Chase said that Gillard had called and informed him that he was offered $6 million to shoot Mr. David Granger, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, during one of his outreaches.
“This was possibly before Granger had moved from his Durban Backlands home.”
As a result, Chase said that he invited Mr. Gillard, to the studio to have these allegations recorded on camera.
“Mr. Gillard made himself available on March 30, 2017 and the recording was done, in studio at HGP Nightly News.
During the recording, the witness recalled that Gillard was offered money by one Nizam Khan to assassinate Mr. Granger.
“Mr. Gillard stated to me that the police were not taking his complaint seriously.”
After the video recording was made, Chase told the Commission that he contacted ranks of the Guyana Police Force, including head of the Presidential Guard, Mr. Brian Joseph, and Assistant Police commissioner and Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit, (SOCU) Sydney James.
He said that he later provided Joseph with a disc of the recording with Mr. Gillard.
He said too that throughout the time, he was involved in interviewing with Gillard; he made attempts tried to engage the Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum on the matter but repeated calls to Blanhum went unanswered.
He said that some time after Gillard informed that he was with the accused, Nizam Khan at the Criminal Investigations Department.
“And that police want to place him, Gillard into the lock ups and that the accused was behaving in a disorderly manner upstairs at CID. I advised him to stay calm and comply with the police.”
The witness said that on April 20, last, as part of his follow up, he enquired from Minister of State Joseph Harmon about the status of the matter.
“The Minister confirmed the report and the ongoing investigation. I ran with the story that the police are investigating the alleged plot to assassinate the President, like all the other media houses except that I had exclusive footage of the complaint, parts of which I ran with over three-news cycle.”
After the footage was aired on the news, Chase said that he was followed around on numerous occasions by police operatives.
“I reported this to Assistant Commissioner Hicken because I was concerned for my safety at this point. Mr. Hicken told me to be careful and if I observe the vehicle (s) in question I should notify him immediately.”
Some time later, Chase said he advised Mr. Gillard to present himself at CID, Eve Leary again.
“I followed him with the camera and interviewed him outside CID after which he presented himself to police there. At that interview Mr. Gillard spoke of the confrontation that took place with a cousin of the alleged accused, the conduct of the police at CID and how he was mistreated.”
On June 10, 2017, Chase recalled that he contacted Mr. Gillard again and conducted a follow-up interview on the story to which he (Gillard) made the same allegation and accused the police of covering up the matter.
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