Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud, told the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Lindo Creek Massacre that ranks from the Guyana Police Force never ventured to Lindo Creek, rather he remains convinced that notorious criminal Rondel ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and his gang murdered the eight men.
The Top Cop appeared before the CoI this morning (Tuesday) where he maintained that a team of officers, led by him, did not venture to Lindo Creek.
Persaud- who was Crime Chief at the time told Commissioner retired Justice Donald Trotman that in June of 2008, the Commissioner Henry Greene, provided him with a map identifying Christmas Falls in the upper Berbice River area and informed him that notorious criminal Rondel ‘Fineman’ Rawlins was in the area hiding out with his gang.
He was then instructed to head an operation to arrest the prison escapee. Persaud related that he then mobilized a team of 6 other officers and a number of civilians who were aware of the area and then ventured to Christmas Falls.
The officers were Assistant Commissioner, Clifton Hicken; Deputy Superintendent, Withrite; Inspectors Layne and Narine; Assistant Superintendent, Lowenfield and Deputy Superintendent Nurse.
The team arrived at around 17:00hrs on June 5, 2008 and spent the night on the right bank of the Berbice River. The Commission heard that the next morning, a team led by Hicken crossed the river and made their way above Christmas Falls-which is in the Berbice River and were engaged by a gang of men.
Persaud said that he heard a series of gunshots and rapid fire and then ventured to render assistance. The Top Cop said that when he arrived he observed one person dead and about 9 firearms seized with ammunition.
Persaud told the CoI that he then contacted Commissioner Greene and informed him of the engagement and they were informed to retreat to allow the Joint Services to pursue the escapees.
He added that the Office of Professional Responsibility led the investigation into the Lindo Creek Massacre and he played no part in the initial process. He was later instructed to take over the investigation and explained that he forwarded the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who advised that the case be closed.
Persaud said that the advice was based on the fact that they had evidence that the 8 men were killed and remains burnt by Rawlins and his gang. He further stated that he remains convinced that the Police played no part in the men’s death hence the reason for closing the file.
However, Commissioner Trotman asked Persaud whether he was surprised at the DPP’s advice. Persaud said that he was not surprised because the Police had evidence to prove that the men were murdered by the criminal gang-most of whom are dead.
Persaud’s answer to the question caused Commissioner Trotman to express his surprise at the advice of the DPP.
He also asked the Top Cop whether he felt the need for a coroner’s inquest into the incident but Persaud informed that he saw no need for it, reiterating that the men were killed by ‘Fine Man’ and his gang.
Under examination by the Commission’s attorney, Patrice Henry, Persaud could not produce any evidence or definitively say that a post mortem examination was conducted on the men’s remains.
The Lindo Creek CoI is the first of what the coalition Government has said would be a series of inquiries into the hundreds of killings, which occurred during a crime wave that began in 2002.
The CoI was established to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the killings of eight miners, and to report its findings and recommendations to President David Granger.
Sometime between June 12, 2008 and June 24, 2008, miners Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres were shot and killed, and their bodies burnt at the Upper Berbice River mining camp, which was being operated by Leonard Arokium. (Lakhram Bhagirat)