Acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine has opined that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) did not properly investigate Andrif Gillard’s allegations that businessman Nizam Khan had offered him $7M to kill President David Granger.
The acting Commissioner placed his opinion on record when, on Friday at the Ministry of the Presidency, he took to the stand to testify before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) that is investigating the allegation.
Ramnarine said he was discharging the duties of Commissioner of Police (ag) when the matter was first reported, and he had ordered Crime Chief Wendell Blanum to personally supervise the investigation.
Gillard had, on March 29, gone to the Public Security Ministry with the hope of meeting Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to report the alleged plot, but the minister was out of the country. Gillard was, however, referred to the CID Headquarters at Eve Leary.
Ramnarine said that after he was briefed on the incident, he attempted to contact Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, who was acting in Ramjattan’s capacity, but those efforts were futile. He was, however, able to contact the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, to whom he related the information in police possession.
He noted that an investigation immediately commenced, and, at about 16:00hrs, he was informed that Nizam Khan was in custody. At around 20:00hrs, he had received a call stating that President Granger wanted a briefing the following day.
At about 05:30hrs, while receiving the daily crime briefing from Crime Chief Blanum, it was indicated to him that Blanhum had ordered the release of Nizam Khan.
The acting Commissioner said the police were not in possession of any information that would have suggested Gillard’s claims were dishonest; and as a result, he had asked why Nizam Khan was ordered released, and was told that Khan had promised to return the following day to assist with investigations.
Ramnarine told the commission he had assured the President that all steps were being taken to guarantee the President’s safety, and was asked for a written report to chronicle the investigation.
He said Commissioner Seelall Persaud resumed duty on April 1, and following a debriefing, he [Ramnarine] informed Persaud of the report, which was unfinished. Persaud told Ramnarine to provide him with all the information and he, Persaud, would compile the report and send it to the Commander in Chief.
Ramnarine said he had not been consulted on the issue of bail, and if it were up to him, he would surely not have granted Nizam Khan bail.
“We have held people for 72 hours for far less serious offences,” he told the CoI.
On the night of March 29, Imran Khan, brother of Nizam Khan, behaved in a disorderly manner at the CID HQ and was subsequently arrested. During his arrest, his cellphone rang and it indicated that Commissioner Persaud was calling; and following that conversation, the investigating detective, Prem Narine, received a call instructing him to release the Khan brothers.
Ramnarine told the commission that the following morning, when he was receiving the daily crime briefing, the crime chief did not provide any information on the investigation. He said he had to ask for an update, and was told that Blanum had released the Khan brothers.
Having ordered the Crime Chief to supervise the investigation, Ramnarine said, he had felt that investigation would be through. He is now saying that he felt the investigation was not properly conducted because several senior officers had become involved therein.
“I have now come to learn that he (Blanum) may have been influenced on the very afternoon of the 29th (of March), and that is to say specifically by the Commissioner (Seelall Persaud), who was on leave…because of the association of the Commissioner of Police and Imran Khan and Nizam Khan fundamentally. So, taking into account all the circumstances surrounding the conduct of this investigation, my sincere answer would be, ‘No, it was not properly investigated’,” Ramnarine revealed while being questioned by Commission Chair Paul Slowe.
Attorney for Nizam Khan, Christopher Ram, objected to the line of questioning from Slowe, citing the need for the Commission to retain an attorney to ensure the proper line of questioning is observed. Slowe acknowledged Ram’s concerns, but continued questioning Ramnarine about his opinion of the quality of investigation conducted.
During his testimony, Ramnarine also revealed that he would have seen Imran Khan in the company of Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud, and he had later learnt that they share a somewhat business relationship.
Currently on leave, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud is expected to appear before the CoI on Monday. CoI Chair, Paul Slowe, indicated that he had received a letter informing that a separate lawyer may represent Persaud, while Senior Counsel Ian Chang will represent the interest of the Guyana Police Force.
Meanwhile, following the testimony of journalist Travis Chase, during which he had alleged that while working at News Update he was arrested following instructions by then Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, editor of News Update, Romel Roopnarine, has since disputed this evidence, claiming that Chase was arrested following a report made by a staff member to the effect that Chase had stolen her friend’s camera. Chase has since been fined for the offence of larceny.
The public hearing continues on Monday, and Slowe is expected to hand over his report to President Granger on August 18.