Aug 15, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Former Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Retired Assistant Commissioner, Paul Slowe said that the damning allegations of bribery and corruption against the Guyana Police over the gunning down of Ricardo Fagundes called paper Shorts should not be investigated by any member or unit of the Guyana Police Force.
He said this matter should be seen in the wider national security context and as such called for an independent investigation.
Fagundes was gunned down outside Palm Court Club in Main Street, Georgetown in March 2021. A sergeant, Dion Bascom who was earlier this year removed from investigating the killing of Fagundes and transferred to another location, has since alleged a grand cover-up by senior ranks of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force and the payment of a large bribe to a named officer as part of the cover-up. The officer, as well as a prominent businessman linked to the crime has since denied the allegations an even threatened to sue Bascom.
Fagundes, a close friend of Roger Khan was riddled with more than 20 bullets on March 21, 2021 moments after he stepped out of Palm Court on Main Street, Georgetown. CCTV cameras had captured two shooters getting into a white, tinted Toyota Fielder motorcar, making good their escape. Bascom was one of the detectives working on the case.
Lacks of credibility
“It is my view that the Guyana Police Force, as currently staffed, lacks the credibility to conduct a conscientious investigation into these serious allegations against senior member of the Force and the businessman named in the allegation,” Slowe wrote in a letter to the press on Saturday.
Referencing a statement by the Police Force, which stated that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has been instructed to commence an investigation into the allegations leveled by Bascom, Slowe said this is “laughable.” He added that the statement is ambiguous and does not state what is to be investigated. “The Office of Professional Responsibility lacks the personnel and credibility to conduct an investigation of this nature. Of note is that some of the members of the Force against whom the allegations are leveled are far senior in rank to the most senior rank at the Office of Professional Responsibility,” Slowe wrote.
He recalled that some years ago when a serious criminal allegation was made against a senior member of the Force help was sought and obtained from a sister CARICOM country to assist in the investigation. That assistance gave credibility to the investigative process. “I am of the view that if the authorities are serious about getting to the bottom of this very serious allegation made by a serving member of the Force, the only acceptable option is for a team of competent independent investigators to be assembled to conduct the investigation. Anything less will be unacceptable,” Slowe asserted.
He said after the fire which completely destroyed several buildings in the Brickdam police compound both the President and the Vice President stated that overseas help would be sought to investigate the cause of the fire. That did not materialise.
“Notwithstanding that failure, being a perennial optimist, I am still hopeful that given the very serious nature of this recent allegation and its potential to further damage the ailing image of the Guyana Police Force, and by extension Guyana, they will see the need to urgently seek overseas assistance to get to the bottom of these nocuous allegations.”
Slowe said he has noted with great concern the serious allegations made by Bascom. Touching on comments attributed to the Leader of the Alliance for Change and former Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, which stated that there should be an immediate investigation by the Police Complaints Authority into the allegations. Slowe said he had pointed out previously that Section 14 of the Police Complaints Authority Act, Chapter 17:02, empowers the Police Complaints Authority to ‘supervise’ specific criminal allegations leveled against members of the Guyana Police Force.
Those allegations are: complaint or information that any member of the force has unlawfully caused the death of any person; doing bodily harm by wanton misconduct; assault causing actual bodily harm; unlawful wounding; discharging loaded firearm with intent; felonious wounding and such other offences as may be specified by the Minister.
He said the usual practice, as provided for in the above named Act, is for one or more members of the Guyana Police Force to conduct the investigation, which is “supervised” by the Police Complaints Authority. “The Criminal Investigations Department of the Guyana Police Force is tasked with the investigation of serious crimes. The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), which is a unit within the Guyana Police Force can also investigate serious crimes that fall within the scope of that unit.” “However, having regards to the nature of the allegations, and the fact that the Police Complaints Authority can only “supervise” specific investigations conducted by the member (s) of the Force, I am of the view that the investigation into the damning allegations made by the sergeant should not be investigated by any member or unit of the Guyana Police Force,” Slowe said.
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