The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger was told on Monday that Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud ordered the release of businessman Nizam Khan – the accused plotter; his brother, Imran Khan, and the complainant – Andrif Gillard on the night of March 29, 2017.
Earlier this year, Gillard had alleged that Nizam Khan asked him to kill President Granger sometime in 2015, an allegation Khan has denied. According to Gillard, he had approached Khan to loan him $6 million, but Khan instead offered him $7 million, noting that he would not have to repay the money if he killed the President.
Inspector Prem Narine, attached to the Criminal Investigation Department’s Major Crimes Unit, told the Commission that on March 29, he received a call around 19:00h from Detective Sergeant Komal Petamber informing him of a situation at the CID Headquarters, Eve Leary.
Petamber was investigating the allegations made by Gillard and had brought both Gillard and Nizam Khan to CID Headquarters for a confrontation. During the confrontation, Nizam’s brother, Imran Khan, arrived and alleged that Gillard threatened to kill him at the station. He was adamant that a report be made, but was informed that the CID was not equipped to take the report, but a message would be sent to the Brickdam Police Station and they would do the necessary. This incensed the man and he became aggressive towards the Police Officers, and he was subsequently taken into custody. Imran Khan was processed and he had a licensed firearm in his possession, which was confiscated and lodged.
Inspector Narine related that after he received the call about the incident, he made
his way to Eve Leary and upon arrival, he cautioned Imran Khan who calmed down. “Later, I can’t recall the exact time, I received a call from Commissioner of Police, Mr Seelall Persaud; he asked me what was happening in relation to the matter and I told him there was Imran Khan at the station behaving in a certain manner. I told him that we have his brother, Nizam Khan in custody in relation to the allegation of Mr Gillard,” he related.
“I told him also that there were allegations by Imran Khan, Nizam Khan and Mr Gillard they were threatened by each other and as a result, everyone was in custody at that time because of the report of the threats. He then instructed that I send Mr Imran Khan on his own recognisance and place the other persons on bail,” Narine added.
The Inspector told the CoI that following the Top Cop’s instructions he released Imran Khan and placed Gillard and Nizam Khan on bail, which they subsequently posted. He further revealed that Police Commissioner Persaud had also instructed him to return the Khan brothers’ licensed firearms to them and he complied.
CoI Commissioner Paul Slowe asked Narine if he felt the Police Commissioner’s instructions were inappropriate, to which he admitted they were “a little” inappropriate.
Relied on facts, not feelings
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum also appeared before the Commissioners and he said that on March 29, he received a call from the Public Security Ministry informing him of the alleged plot. The caller, a female, told him that Gillard was at the Ministry making the accusations. He related that he immediately made contact with Divisional Commander Clifton Hicken.
“I explained to him (Hicken) the story that was being told to me and I also requested, based on the serious nature of the allegation, I requested none other than the Divisional Detective Officer in charge of crime, A Division Superintendent Michael Kingston,” he explained.
He further stated that he summoned head of the Major Crimes Unit, Mitchell Caesar, and the interviewee, Gillard who related the alleged plot and an investigation was subsequently launched. A 17-page statement was taken from Gillard and investigations progressed.
Blanhum related that because of the nature of the allegation, a decision was taken to have the Major Crimes Unit investigate the matter, and he added that he received several reports of Gillard frustrating the investigation.
He said the Police’s Legal Adviser, retired Justice Claudette Singh, SC, did not recommend any charges be made in the matter because the evidence was tenuous and there was simply nothing to charge anyone with.
As his testimony continued, the Crime Chief clashed with Commissioner Slowe when he was asked whether he checked to ensure that a record was made of the incident in the A Division log. Blanhum said that he was not responsible for finding out whether proper records were documented, explaining that he functioned at the executive level of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and there were supervisors and other ranks below him who were tasked with those responsibilities.
He also related that he did not find it strange that the men were released less than 24 hours following the commencement of the investigation. Slowe and Blanhum clashed once more when the CoI Commissioner asked the Crime Chief why the matter was not being treated as treason, but he explained that the offence was treated as incitement to commit murder although the President was involved, citing that he relied on facts and not feelings.
In June, President Granger decided to launch a CoI into the alleged plot to assassinate him and named former Police Commissioner Paul Slowe as Chairman of the Commission.