The police may have to try a different angle in their quest to solve the mystery of the deaths of the teenage cousins from # 3 Village, West Coast Berbice. Four of the seven suspects held have been released on bail and it is not clear what leads the police have obtained thus far.
The case was never going to be an easy one to solve. And it was made more difficult by the search party which found the bodies, and which would have trampled all over the area where the boys were found, thus compromising the crime scene.
The protests also would have denied the police access to persons from the boys’ home village who could have provided information which may have helped in solving the crime. The protests, which hindered access to witnesses, would have given sufficient time and cover to discard any incriminating evidence.
By the time the police would have had access to the bodies and the crime scene, dozens of persons would have been in contact with or in close proximity to them. Combing the bodies for fibers then would have made little sense since too many persons would have been near to the remains of the teenage boys.
The situation was not helped when political instigators told the protesters that they were doing the right thing and that they should organize for self-defense. This led to an escalation of tensions and further compounded the difficulties faced by the investigators.
The police now have to pursue human intelligence. And this means that they have to question more persons in order to retrace the whereabouts and movement of the boys just prior to their deaths.
There are some issues which the police need to resolve. The first is the actual time of death. The investigative sleuths need to pin this down so as to narrow the focus of the investigation. Persons are normally not in the backlands after sunset and therefore if the boys met their deaths there, it would likely have had to take place before sunset.
The second issue to be resolved would be the movements of the boys. Initial reports suggested that the boys had left to go into the backdam to pick coconuts. But there has been another report by a relative which indicates that one of them was taking the other to the former’s workplace to see if work was available. This is a very strange contradiction between the two main narratives.
Persons however would have seen the young men. In small communities everybody knows each other. Therefore, as the police speak to more persons, they may be able to trace exactly where the boys were headed and at what time.
To reconstruct the boys’ movements and their ultimate deaths, human intelligence is critical. This is why it is important that the police should be able to have better access to potential witnesses from the area.
The police also should start looking at different scenarios rather than the ones which have been painted thus far. The villagers should help the police rather than obstruct them in this task.
The President has signalled that he is going to seek assistance from the British and from the Regional Security Services. The former is most likely to provide forensic assistance and investigative oversight.
Some political antagonists have called for an independent investigation – a wholly unnecessary call which has cast unwarranted aspersions on the investigators. The case will have to be solved by those who are familiar with the terrain – the local crime investigators.
However, because this has been so politicized, ‘ethnicized’ and criminalized, international assistance will allow for greater trustworthiness.
The role of the Regional Security Services (RSS) is a little more perplexing. As far as this writer is aware, the RSS is not involved in criminal investigations or in providing forensic services; it acts as a Regional Defence Force.
Neither the PNC nor the PPP/C when in government sought to join the RSS. The President may need to ascertain whether those who advised him to seek the services of the RSS have a clue about that body.
An international Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of the young men and the subsequent disturbances should be welcomed. Apart from the deaths of the young men, there was arson, robbing and beating of persons and destruction of property.
Race relations disintegrated because of the incident. An international commission of inquiry would allow for an impartial investigation into the deaths and disturbances.
The Commission of Inquiry can make important recommendations as to how to avoid a reoccurrence. It can also heal the divisions which resulted from the deaths and destruction.
The first order of business, however, is to find the culprit or culprits who murdered these boys. However, certain crimes take long to solve.
People therefore have to be patient. They must not expect miracles from the investigators and they must be willing to assist the police in solving the terrible crime against two young men.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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