More than 10 months after a report into the shocking killings in 2008 of eight miners in a Berbice River mining camp was handed over to Government, relatives are again calling for some attention to the matter.
The Commissioner of Inquiry (COI) report had recommended that relatives be compensated.
In early August, President David Granger received the report from head of the COI, Justice (Ret’d) Donald Trotman. Since then, there has been little word.
Visiting the offices of Kaieteur News yesterday were Onika Butts, fiancée for Dax Arokium; Kellisa King, daughter of Cedric Arokium and 81-year-old Carmen Gittens, sister of Compton Speirs.
The women said that they are anxious for the matter to be brought to closure.
For Butts, her two children with Dax Arokium are asking hard questions about their father.
“We want closure and this matter to be addressed,” Butts said.
The women said they had attempted to meet Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and were told by a senior security official at the Ministry of the Presidency compound that they would be contacted.
Butts said that the office of Minister Simona Broomes had called her about her children and other details. But since then, nothing. The women met the Minister on December 21st, the same day of the no-confidence vote in the National Assembly.
The men – Bonny Harry, Horace Drakes, Dax Arokium, Cecil Arokium, Nigel Torres, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee and Compton Speirs – were killed, then burnt at a mining camp at Lindo Creek, upper Berbice River, on or about June 21, 2008, almost 11 years ago.
The incident was described as a stain on Guyana’s history, with the Coalition Government ordering an inquiry into the findings of which have not yet been made known.
There were debates whether the men were killed by mistake by personnel from a Joint Services group or by the gang of the now dead Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, a wanted man who was killed in Timehri.
The COI Report stated that ranks of the Joint Services were the most likely individuals to have committed the crime.
The report recommended that the criminal investigation into the massacre be reopened to determine who are really responsible for the murders. It also recommended compensation for the relatives of the slain men.
Additionally, some of the recommendations included offering scholarships to the children of the murdered miners, providing counselling for family members, and financial compensation.
The report was handed over to President David Granger last August and relatives have been anticipating a response from the authorities.
Based on the report, eleven public officials were implicated for failing to properly execute their duties “before and after” the killing of the eight miners.
These persons were identified as then President and current Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, along with former Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee. The report stated that the identified officials “failed and/or neglected to perform their duties in all material respects”.
The other individuals were the Director of Public Prosecutions, the then Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Commissioner of Police, the Crime Chief, Deputy Crime Chief, Head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Head of Police Major Crimes Unit, Police Commanders of the ‘E’ and ‘F’ Divisions, and Divisional Detective Inspectors of ‘E’ and ‘F’ Divisions.
Justice Donald Trotman, who chaired the COI, had noted during the public hearings that there were several gaps in the testimonies of police officers and those who were tasked with investigating the murders, as well as the allegations of the involvement of the Joint Services.
Justice Trotman said the investigative teams were all negligent in carrying out their duties.
“There was some investigation but that investigation in the estimation of the Commission was not adequate, was not competent, and could not have brought about accurate results,” he was quoted as stating.
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