By Shikema Dey
‘To serve and protect’ is their mandate but over the years, on multiple occasions, Guyana has seen rogue elements of force disregard this pledge and fall into the ‘criminal’ category. Ranks have been caught ‘red handed’ trafficking marijuana, cocaine, arraigned for murder, and accepting bribes among other heinous crimes.
It has been known for years that corruption is endemic in the police force from the highest to the lowest level but due to the lack of data, one cannot measure the level of corruption. But it has also infiltrated all sections of the Joint Services.
MURDER ON THE RIVER
In August, 2009, Guyana Defence Force coast guards Sherwin Hart, Devon Gordon and Deon Greenidge were charged for murdering Dwieve Kant Ramdass.
It was alleged that on August 20, 2009 they forced Ramdass into their boat at Caiman Hole in the Essequibo River, where they relieved him of $17M in cash he was carrying in a box to Bartica for his employer. The ranks then dumped their victim overboard.
The three accused were found guilty and sentenced to death. They have since appealed their sentences.
In October, 2010, in an almost similar case, Keron Herbert, a former member of the Guyana Defence Force was charged with murdering gold miners Jainarine Raghubar and Ramdeo Deonarine. The bodies were found in a house at Bartica.
A quantity of gold and money was also stolen from the house. The booty is said to have included $25 million stashed in a suitcase, some 100 ounces of raw gold, a quantity of jewellery, a large diamond worth at least $15 million and two firearms
Herbert was subsequently freed of the charges. However, in December, 2015, the ex- soldier was shot three times near his East La Penitence home. He later succumbed.
TORTURE OF A TEEN
Back in October, 2009, a teenage boy named Twyon Thomas made international headlines after his genitals were doused with methylated spirit and set alight by two police officers at the Leonora Police Station during a murder investigation that year.
The case had drawn local and international condemnation after a graphic photo of Thomas was published by Kaieteur News shortly after the incident.
Those officers were later identified as Sergeant Narine Lall and Constable Mohanram Dulai. The teen told his lawyer, now Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan that the police ranks who interrogated him first covered his head with a jersey and tied his hands with wire before dousing his genitals with methylated spirits and setting him alight.
Police officials attempted to “cover up” the deed and only decided to have the teen admitted to a hospital after the media broke the story.
The teen through his lawyer sued the then Attorney General Charles Ramson Snr, Commissioner of Police, Henry Greene, and the two ranks charged with the offence, Sergeant Lall and Constable Dolai.
The two ranks appeared in court on November 2009, charged with burning the genitals of the then 15-year-old boy with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or cause him grievous bodily harm.
The criminal case against them was subsequently dismissed in the Magistrate’s Court after the boy and other witnesses failed to turn up. But in June 2011, Justice Roxanne George awarded $6.5M in damages to Twyon Thomas. The Attorney General was also ordered to pay $100,000 in costs, while Sergeant Narine Lall and Constable Mohanram Dulai, the two policemen accused of torturing Thomas, were ordered to pay $75,000 each in costs.
But despite all this, in a shocking move, the Guyana Police Force published an order in January 2, 2015, that Sergeant Narine Lall was promoted to the rank of Inspector, and Dolai to the rank of Corporal.
But justice in June, 2015, newly appointed Public Security Minister booted the two disgraced cops from the force with immediate effect. Ramjattan had stated that “you cannot have done this major misconduct and still be retained in the Guyana Police Force, and then be promoted.”
In 2019, another incident of torture surfaced, again by the hands of two officers of the force. This time, 17-old Ashkay Budhiram, a mason of 3928 La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara suffered.
The teen was abducted and tortured by two off duty police constables who accused him of breaking into their home. Commissioner of Police Leslie James informed the media of the incident and revealed that the cops are the sons of a senior police official.
Commissioner James stated that the men’s home was broken into on December 12th and items were removed. They were said to have received word that the teen was somehow involved in the incident.
He stated that the two officers, one stationed at Wales and the other from the Tactical Service Unit (TSU) acted on their own; picked up the teen from his home and transported him in a private vehicle to their house.
The two cops, 26-year-old Isaiah Bernard and his brother, 24-year-old Daniel Bernard were charged for kidnapping and torturing the teen but were given bail for the offense.
On December 30, 2017, police ranks intercepted then SWAT Unit Commander, Motie Dookie, during a routine stop and search operation at Whim Village, Corentyne, Berbice. Motie was at the time a passenger in a minibus that only had a driver when the vehicle was stopped.
A search of the vehicle uncovered a shocking 30 cases of smuggled Johnny Walker Whiskey. Both Motie and the bus driver were immediately taken into police custody after they could not produce the legal documents for the items.
The former SWAT boss was booted from the Force two years after the bust, a move ordered by Police Service Commission head, former Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe.
Initially after the bust, Motie was first removed from the senior position and transferred to ‘A’ Division. This was due to the fact that junior ranks viewed his transfer as a promotion for his indiscretion rather than a punishment.
IT NEVER ENDS
IN 2018, three Police Officers were thrown before the court for demanding money from three Venezuelan women in separate incidents. Those cops were 30-year-old Corwyn Mingo, 34-year-old Ceon Jones and 26-year-old Tevin Estrado attached to the Trafficking in Persons Unit, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary.
The facts stated that Mingo between June 1 and June 30, 2018 at Makari Top, Mazaruni River, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) engaged in sexual activity with a Venezuelan female without her consent.
Also on the same day, Ceon Jones and Tevin Estrado demanded 15 pennyweight of raw gold valued at $157,500 from three Venezuelans.
The ranks were investigating reports of alleged Trafficking In Persons committed on three Venezuelan women.
During the investigations, three Police ranks stationed at Issano Police Station were identified as persons who demanded money from the women during a stop-and-search operation at Makari Top. It was said that the women handed over 15 pennyweight of raw gold valued $157,500 and one of the females reported that she was raped by one of the officers. Those very officers were identified as perpetrators in the incident.
In June, 2019, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Seecharran Singh was committed to stand trial for the alleged rape of 13-year-old girl.
According to information, the teen was left in Singh’s care. At the time the policeman was attached to the Brickdam Police Station.
It was while the two were alone that he allegedly made advances to her. It was alleged that the officer took the child into a room and had sexual intercourse with her.
When the child’s mother returned home, the minor confided what transpired and the matter was reported.
In October, 2019, Police Corporal Quincy Bacchus and his friend Ramu Singh were charged with trafficking a whopping $12.2M in cannabis. His colleagues received a tip that Bacchus was using his “uniform privileges” to traffic cannabis from Berbice to Georgetown.
Bacchus, after being trailed by ranks from the Police Narcotics Branch was intercepted at Aubrey Barker Road in his car. At the time, he was dressed in his Police uniform while Singh was a passenger in the vehicle and police found seven parcels of cannabis inside the trunk.
At present, charges were recently recommended against two police ranks for allegedly attempting to cover up a rape allegation against an Opposition Member of Parliament. The MP, who is also likely to be charged, is alleged to have made sexual advances against a teenage boy.
Female ranks have been also implicated in corruption
In April, 2016, a former police prosecutor was charged with allegedly taking more than GYD$162,000 and one television as bribes to drop a simple larceny charge against a man.
It is alleged that Suzette Cornette obtained an undisclosed sum of cash from Andrew Fung as an inducement to forebear a simple larceny charge against him, corruptly obtained from Fung the sum of GYD$52,000 at OPR, Camp Street as an inducement, corruptly obtained from Fung the sum of GYD$52,000 on Sheriff Street as an inducement and she received one Samsung television valued GYD$300,000 and GYD$60,000 cash as an inducement.
Late last year, at least two policewomen are under investigation for allegedly attempting to cover up a series of gang rapes. One of the suspects is said to be related to a police rank. A police handwriting expert reportedly stated that one of the policewomen forged statements, which she claimed were written by the victims, and which seemed to clear the culprits.
The matter is still under investigation. Meanwhile, new allegations have surfaced that other individuals are attempting to subvert the course of justice.
But allegations of corruption go way back to the tenure of former Police Commissioners Laurie Lewis and Henry Greene (both now deceased).
Lewis was at the helm of the Force in April, 1993, when a 19-year-old security guard named Monica Reece was murdered on Good Friday, and dumped from a pickup onto Main Street.
Although a prime suspect has been identified, that case remains ‘unsolved.’ The Force has since conceded that corrupt elements tampered with this investigation. Although the case was reopened in 2018, the alleged perpetrator has still not been charged, and allegations of individuals suppressing evidence in this matter persist.
Henry Greene was persistently dogged by allegations of corruption. These surfaced when he was an Assistant Police Commissioner, in relation to an alien trafficking ring in Canada.
Despite the US Embassy cautioning the previous administration about appointing him to the position of Top Cop, Greene was eventually appointed to the highest level of the Force.
But he was forced to resign in the wake of a rape allegation.
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