Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday asserted that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Lindo Creek massacre is turning out to be an assault on the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) by the coalition Administration.
“The police and army…serve the people of this country. When we had that crime wave, a lot of people were cowering in their homes. It was the soldiers and the policemen who had to go out and protect our people. Hunt down these criminals. Put their lives at risks and now they’re on trial because somebody in the family believes that it was the soldiers,” he told media operatives during a press conference.
According to Jagdeo, the President David Granger led Administration seems to be more concerned with clearing the name of gang leader, Rondel “Fineman” Rawlins.
“So he [Granger] is more concerned about clearing Fine man’s name…and I told you why, because they were supporting him materially, and it was an embarrassment when they [Fineman gang] went and killed all the people there,” the Opposition Leader posited.
According to him, the GDF ranks who are being interrogated at the COI are being given an unfair trial as the Government has already made their own conclusion.
“Lindo Creek from the very beginning, we knew it to be a political activity because Granger said he wanted to find out the truth about the troubled period, so we thought we’d get a comprehensive COI…but he went and picked Lindo Creek where there was an accusation that it wasn’t “Fine man” it was the army who did it…And then he [Chairman of the COI] says, there’s a failure of Government. He’s already concluded basically. The reports are written for him. This is all a sham…And then every time the reports from the Soldiers, all the Soldiers are saying ‘here is the evidence’ they went and questioned the guys in private. The Soldiers are not having a fair [trial] there. You look at what’s going on” Jagdeo maintained.
He also pointed out the fact that since the COI has begun –in February 2018- not a shred of evidence have been found to support the allegations that the Army and Police ranks were involved in the murders.
“No solid evidence, not a single shred of evidence so far. Not a shred of evidence to say it’s the police and the army yet they’re being dragged before, in a public fashion, being dragged before a COI, damaging reputations, etc,” Jagdeo said.
Almost 10 years after the eight miners were killed, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Lindo Creek Massacre, commenced in February.
Retired Justice Donald Trotman, 80, is the lone Commissioner selected by President Granger to oversee the CoI.
Retired Justice Trotman is the father of Government Minister Raphael Trotman.
This is just one of the reasons why the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has expressed skepticism about participating and supporting the work of the Commission as the Party believes that given the manner in which the CoI was constituted and the commentary from senior Government officials, it is designed to achieve a political outcome.
Justice Trotman however, had said that the main objective of the CoI was to find the truth and to bring healing and closure to the nation as a whole.
He expressed hope that the Lindo Creek and other inquiries would help bring about reconciliation among Guyanese.
President Granger had described Lindo Creek as a “massacre of the innocence”, saying that his Government believed the way the investigation was handled indicated that there was a high level of collusion.
He had also rejected suggestions to extend the CoI’s focus to several years before 2008 when other major criminal activities had plagued the country.
The PPP/C had said that the inquiry should have started from the period 1998 when the real wave of violence commenced, which would assist in addressing the root cause of the violence.
Some time 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. (Ramona Luthi)