The Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry has cast doubt on suggestions that Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins and his gang slaughtered and burnt eight miners in their Upper Berbice River camp in June, 2008.
It has pointed to “other persons” being responsible for the killing, known as the “Lindo Creek Massacre.”
The Commissioner’s report also concluded that some former Government functionaries, including senior police ranks, failed to properly investigate the killings and recommended that their individuals be subjected to an investigation.
It also recommended that financial compensation, as well as benefits for the victim’s children, be awarded to the families of the slain men. Most of the victims were the main financial providers for their households.
Presenting the report to President David Granger yesterday at the Ministry of the President, Chairman of the Commission, Justice Desmond Trotman said that despite several challenges and constraints, the team tried its best to be faithful to the requirements of the terms of reference, to achieve the objectives and to obey the mandate of the Inquiry.
Commending President Granger for appointing the Commission, Trotman said that during the past six months, the Commission “has searched and travelled to find truth that could lead to justice.
“In our own time and for the sake of closure, we and the suffering families of the murdered miners may want to forget that gruesome massacre of Lindo Creek, which shocked the conscience of the nation.
“But history and posterity will not erase the dark deeds of those who have conspired to disrespect the dead, to deceive the living and to conceal the truth from the nation.”
A Ministry of the Presidency release stated that President Granger vowed to ensure that no efforts are spared by the Government to expose the intellectual authors and the perpetrators of the deadly violence during the period of the “Troubles” as he noted that the truth must be determined to reinforce regard for the sanctity of life, respect for the Constitution and law and the restoration of public trust in those entrusted with upholding the law.
The Head of State said that the ‘Troubles’ will be remembered for a spate of uninvestigated massacres – at Kitty, Lamaha Gardens, Bourda, Buxton-Friendship, Prashad Nagar, Agricola-Eccles, La Bonne Intention, Bagotstown, Black Bush Polder, Lusignan, Lindo Creek and elsewhere.
He therefore noted that the Government is determined to ensure that, as far as humanly possible, the truth about the ‘Troubles’ is uncovered.
“I commit to lifting the veil of dissimulation and deception surrounding the deaths of so many Guyanese citizens. Human safety and respect for the right to life have never been so imperiled as during the first decade of the 21st century – a period to which I have referred as the ‘Troubles’.
“I stated, in my address to the National Assembly on 13th October 2016: “The ‘Troubles’ will be remembered as the darkest hour of our history. It was a time of the uninvestigated assassination of a Minister; of the investigation into the alleged implication of another Minister in the direction of a ‘death squad’; of the alleged implication of yet another Minister in the acquisition of a computer to track the telephone communication and location of adversaries targeted for assassination.
“It was a time of arbitrary arrests; of disappearances and of torture of young men; of the surge in armed robberies, narco-trafficking and gun-running. During that first, deadly decade, there were 1,317 murders and 7,865 armed robberies,” the President said.
President Granger noted that the Constitution, at Article 138 (1), enshrines respect for the right to life, stating, “No person shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of sentence of a court in respect of an offence under the law of Guyana of which he has been convicted.”
Guyanese citizens, he said, do not deserve to live in continual fear, under the threat of violent death. Their lives should not be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
“Human safety would be imperiled without respect for the law. Citizens would live in continual fear, under the threat of violent death and their lives would be “…solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short…” to quote Thomas Hobbes.
Public trust will be enhanced when inquiries could be held into all incidents of criminal violence. Public trust will be enhanced when officers who are responsible for enforcing the law enjoy the confidence of the majority of the people and are themselves not ensnared in allegations of misconduct.
Commissions of Inquiry are necessary to ascertain the facts to recommend measures to prevent recurrences of crimes. Inquiries will ensure that those accused of crimes are brought before the courts of law.
“This Inquiry started the process of searching for the causes and culprits behind some of the most deadly atrocities committed during the ‘Troubles’,” he noted.
Bonny Harry, Horace Drakes, Dax Arokium, Cecil Arokium, Nigel Torres, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee and Compton Spiers were killed then burnt at a mining camp at Lindo Creek, Upper Berbice River on or about June 21, 2008.
The Commission began its hearings on February 15. It held 22 public hearings, seven in-camera hearings and interviewed some 80 witnesses.
Several senior police ranks, including former Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud, Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken, Head of the Police Office of Professional Responsibility Heeralall Mackinlall testified.
Hicken had testified to spotting ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins during gunfight between a police team and the gang at Christmas Falls in early June.
However, mining camp boss Leonard Arokium had insisted that the ‘Fine Man’ gang could not have covered the rough terrain leading from Christmas Falls to Lindo Creek to kill his miners.
A number of former Government officials, including former President Bharrat Jagdeo, declined a request to participate in private hearings.
The hearings were often emotional with family members of the victims recounting how they learned of the tragedy, and lamenting the manner in which the remains were buried.
The Commission returned to Lindo Creek and also held a memorial service with relatives of the massacre victims, who also visited the area at La Repentir Cemetery where the burnt remains were buried.
Granger has promised a thorough investigation into the deaths of hundreds of Guyanese, including the former Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow ‘Sash’ Sawh, during the period of 2002-2009.
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