-GDF criticised for excluding camp owner from internal investigation
The Commission of Inquiry (COI) investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of eight miners at Lindo Creek, Upper Berbice River, will be visiting the campsite later this week.
The commission headed by Chairman, retired Justice Donald Trotman said that as it moves apace with its work, a number of outreach activities critical to the investigation have been planned.
The team will commence a four-day visit to the Upper Demerara- Upper Berbice Region on Wednesday. Its first visit on Wednesday, May 9, will be a public conversation with residents at Constabulary Hall, Linden.
The following day, the team will visit Goat Farm Ituni, where interviews will be conducted with Kwakwani residents.
Then on Friday, May 11, the team will visit the Arokium campsite, Lindo Creek. It also has on schedule, a visit to Christmas falls, the site where members of the Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins gang were killed.
The following day, the commission will be engaged in a public conversation at the Kwakwani Workers Club before returning to Georgetown.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was heavily criticised on Monday for excluding the evidence of Lindo Creek’s mining camp owner, Leonard Arokium from an internal investigation, conducted to determine whether GDF ranks were involved in the June 21, 2008 massacre.
According to a DPI release, upon Monday’s resumption of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI), the committee heard from Major Andy Pompey who headed the unit which was appointed to carry out the inquiry among members of the GDF.
In 2008, Pompey was a Captain and head of the Intelligence Corps. He told the COI that the five-member unit which he headed, interviewed the 24-member Joint Services Unit that was deployed to the area at the time. However, the Commission thought it was rather strange that the army did not interview a man who was making a serious allegation.
Arokium had told officials that information he received from eyewitnesses showed that it was the Joint Services that was responsible for the death of his son, brother and six other miners in his employ.
The Joint Services Unit was combing the area and had, days before, been involved in a “shootout” with the “Fineman gang”. They reportedly killed at least two members of the gang.
Commission Chairman, Justice Donald Trotman questioned the mode of operation of the GDF’s investigating team, enquiring from the Pompey, the reason for not questioning Arokium.
“Here is Mr. Arokium making these allegations. You were asked to investigate the circumstances and you didn’t think at least, if no one else, you should have interviewed Mr. Arokuim who was making these allegations?”
Pompey said he was working with a directive at the time. According to him, he was restricted to interviewing only the ranks identified.
“The person interviewed by the team were the persons who the directive I received were to be interviewed and those persons were the only ones who came and were interviewed,” he explained.
Among the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the GDF Unit, was the investigation of “allegations of murder being made against ranks of the Joint Services by Mr. Leonard Arokium and other family members of the deceased”.
On June 21, 2008, the burnt bodies of Dax Arokium, Cedric Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Nigel Torres, Bonny Harry, Clifton Wong and Lancelot Lee, were discovered at Lindo Creek, by mining camp owner Leonard Arokium.