May 08, 2018 News
Major Andy Pompey of the Guyana Defence Force, (GDF) told the Commission of Inquiry, (CoI) into the Lindo Creek massacre yesterday, that based on the findings of an internal investigation by the Army, the execution of the miners in June 2008 was as a result of either of two things; a robbery or because they were suspected to be informants of the security forces in the area.
Major Pompey told the CoI that based on the investigations, the allegation that the GDF was responsible for torturing and killing gold miners Dax Arokium, Cedric Arokium and Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres, was unfounded.
The officer said that after the allegations surfaced, the GDF conducted its own investigations into the matter. He recalled that the mining camp owner Leonard Arokium said someone told him that persons in camouflage clothing were seen in the area.
In response to questions, from the Commissioner, retired Judge Donald Trotman, Pompey said during his investigations he only spoke to GDF ranks. He claimed that he was only allowed to question GDF officers as part of his investigations.
Justice Trotman said he found it strange the investigations only included GDF ranks. Trotman said it was also odd that no civilians were questioned.
He noted that “the person making the allegation, Mr Leonard Arokium should have at least been questioned.”
Similarly, Colonel Omar Khan told the Commission of investigating the two teams which were deployed to the area to search for the “Fine man Gang” at Christmas Falls.
He also spoke of recovering some missing GDF assault rifles at a crime scene at Goat Farm, upper Berbice River in June 2008.
In his evidence before the CoI, Khan noted that the discovery led to the belief that the guns may have been used to commit crimes, including the execution-style killings of former Agricultural Minister Satyadeo Sawh and five Kaieteur News pressmen.
According to the witness, the GDF was part of a joint service expedition in the Kwakwani, Upper Berbice River after receiving intelligence which led to the belief that notorious wanted man Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and his gang were in the area.
At the time, Khan said he was a commanding officer in the military. He recalled the joint services operation consisted of members of the Tactical Services Unit of the Guyana Police Force, (GPF).
Using Google maps, the witness gave the Commission a detailed description of the layout of the locations along the route of Kwakwani, Upper Berbice River. According to Khan, the joint service operation was deployed to the area which included Goat Farm, Christmas Falls, and the Arokium Mining Camp at Lindo Creek in the Upper Berbice River.
Responding to questions from Attorney representing the GDF, Roysdale Forde, the witness told the Commission that during the joint operation in the area, officers “came into contact with a boy not more than 14 years who was said to be a part of the Rawlins gang along the UNAMCO trail in the area.”
Khan testified that the lad who was later identified as Dwayne Williams led security forces to Goat Farm, a place where an AKM assault rifle, which was said to have belonged to the GDF was recovered. The rifle according to Khan is an upgrade to the AK47 rifle.
The gun is said to have been issued to Police Corporal Ivan Williams, who was shot and killed during a joint operation at Buxton about a year before.
Khan said that the security forces began to pay closer attention to the ‘Fine man gang’ after discovering spent shells at a number of crime scenes which matched 7.62 X 39 mm bullets that are used by the AKM rifles.
He told the Commission that the spent shells were recovered at the residence of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow “Sash” Sawh, who along with members of his family, was gunned down.
The spent shells were also found at the scene of the Kaieteur News printery at Industrial Site, Eccles following the attack which claimed the lives of five pressmen and at the scene of a bank robbery which occurred at Rose Hall.
Towards the end of Khan’s evidence, Attorney- at- Law, Leslie Sobers made a request for Dwayne Williams’ testimony, as it relates to the recovery of the ammunition and his connection to the Fine Man gang, to be brought to the commission.
Sobers, who along with Forde, Melissa Forde and Michael Shahoud represented the GDF, noted that the testimony of Williams, who was just a teenager at the time of the killing, could be helpful in arriving at the truth of the matter.
“We believe that he would be very instrumental to this Commission,” Sobers said.
Meanwhile Attorney-at-Law for the CoI, Patrice Henry noted that the Commission was prepared to call a member of the Guyana Police Force, who had taken a statement from Williams, since he is currently “in protective custody.”
“His safety is of paramount importance. He will only appear on the stand if the Guyana Defence Force will guarantee his safety,” Henry stated
The CoI headed by retired Judge Trotman is scheduled to continue today at 10:00 am.
The Commission is also set to hold interviews and public interactions with residents in Linden, Ituni, Kwakwani, Christmas Falls and Lindo Creek later this week.
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