Feb 26, 2018 News Comments Off on Govt. downplays absence of public hearings in Lindo Creek CoI
More than two weeks after being established, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deaths of eight miners whose burnt remains were discovered at a camp at Lindo Creek, in the upper Berbice region, is yet to hold a public hearing.
The first public hearing was called off when witnesses did not show up to testify at the Department of Public Service on Waterloo Street on February 19. A week earlier, the commission attempted to hold a public hearing.
While not providing reasons, the Commission publicly stated that all public hearings were cancelled until further notice.
Kaieteur News understands that some witnesses, who have been in the shadows since the June, 2008 incident had expressed reservation about testifying publicly under the spotlight of the media.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon declared last week that there is no shortage of witnesses for the CoI. Those who died at the mining camp operated by Leonard Arokium included Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres.
“I can say to you that they have already started hearings which are in-camera hearings so there is already a body of evidence there before the commission,” Harmon noted.
Retired Judge, Donald Trotman, was appointed as the sole Commissioner by President David Granger on January 31st.
Previously, he expressed to Kaieteur News his satisfaction with the public response to the CoI into the deaths of the miners.
Trotman had pointed to logistical issues that forced the postponement of the hearing. One of the issues cited was transportation for witnesses.
Harmon committed that Government is willing to meet the transportation expenses to get witnesses to the commission.
“It is part of the law in Guyana where witnesses have to be brought from around the country to testify,” Harmon pointed out.
Even with Government’s commitment, there is no new date announced for the commencement of the public hearings into the Lindo Creek matter.
This is no doubt a worrying sign as the Lindo Creek CoI is the first in a series of probes planned by the Granger administration into several deaths that occurred during the 2000s.
The goal is to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice for their barbaric actions. Hundreds of persons, including some police officers have died during the unprecedented crime wave while Bharrat Jagdeo was president. It was the worst crime wave in the history of Guyana.
Among those who died were some high profile officials including the former PPP Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow ‘Sash Sawh; Leon Fraser, Head of the Police Force’s Target Special Squad on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway; Vibert Inniss, Deputy Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, in Buxton; and political activist and talk-show host Ron Waddell.
There were also mass killings in Agricola, Bartica, Lindo Creek, Lusignan and elsewhere.
At Eccles, five printing press operators from Kaieteur News were murdered on August 8, 2006.
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