The Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Lindo creek massacre heard on Tuesday that while the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) conducted an investigation into possible links with joint services and the killings, it turned up no evidence implicating them.
Taking the witness stand was head of the OPR, retired Assistant Commissioner Heeralall Mackanlall. At the time of the tragedy Mackanlall was the Deputy Head of the office and he related that in 2008, he investigated the massacre upon request from late former Police Commissioner Henry Greene.
Mackanlall said he travelled to the area and met with ranks from the Criminal Investigative Department (CID) and the E and F Divisions. He informed the Commission that he and his team were unable to find camps in the area that could provide eyewitness accounts.
At the end of his two weeks investigation, the veteran officer noted that they were ultimately unable to find evidence against the joint services. At the same time, it was determined that a police, army and Special Forces team were in the general Lindo creek area.
“If you haven’t got all the names, can you remember any of the names, at all?” Chairman of the Commission, Retired Justice Donald Trotman asked. Mackanlall then proceeded to list the names of the commanding officers he did remember from the joint services team.
The officer further related that ballistics test were done on the team’s weapons by Jamaican and local experts.
However, the Force, he said, did not recover spent shells from the scene of the massacre. Moreover, it was noted that time had rendered tests for gunshot residue untenable.
The fact that proper records were not maintained by the OPR after investigating the massacre was a sore point with Trotman.
While on the stand, Mackanlall admitted that he only made a cursory note of the names of these ranks in a ‘scratch pad’ and did not transfer the data to a more permanent form when he returned.
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.
The Lindo Creek CoI is the first of what Government has said would be a series of inquiries into the hundreds of killings, which occurred during a crime wave that began in 2002. (Jarryl Bryan)