Lindo Creek CoI seems focused on clearing “Fine Man’s” name – Jagdeo
– dubs it an assault by the coalition on security forces
From its onset, the parliamentary Opposition has criticised the way Government went about setting up the Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry (CoI). However, now that several persons including present and former security officials are taking the witness stand, and having listened to some of the testimonies, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is convinced that it is focused on clearing the name of a criminal.
He was referring to Rondell “Fine Man” Rawlins and his gang, who were all identified as the parties responsible for the murders of eight miners – Dax Arokium, Cedric Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres – in June 2008. However, the blame was shifted to the security forces by Leonard Arokium, who discovered the burnt remains of the men.
“Lindo Creek from the very beginning, we knew it to be a political activity because (David) Granger said he wanted to find out the truth from the troubled period. We thought we would have gotten a comprehensive CoI. Of course, he went and the part not where you had the Lusignan massacre and Bartica massacre and Agricola… but he went and pick Lindo Creek where there was an accusation that it wasn’t “Fine Man” but it was the Army who did it. So, he is more concerned about clearing “Fine Man’s” name,” Jagdeo told reporters on Wednesday at his Church Street, Georgetown office.
The Opposition Leader also made reference to statements made by the CoI Commissioner, retired Justice Donald Trotman, who he claimed has made public utterances that the Government of the day should take responsibility. “He already concluded that it is a failure of Government…the reports are written for him….”
The former Head of State also gave his view on the recent hearings. He said, “What we are seeing is an assault on the security forces by this Granger Government…he (Justice Donald Trotman) seems more concerned with clearing “Fine Man’s” name…they (the PNC) were supporting him (Fine Man) materially.”
Jagdeo went as far as to state that the Police have the tapes which are evidence to prove that. He hinted that the tapes may have either been tampered with or removed. However, he maintained that there is evidence to prove that the gang is responsible and that it is known by some individuals.
He claimed that members of the security forces are not getting a ‘fair shake.’ Instead, they are being put on trial after they served the Guyanese people by putting their lives on the line. He referred to the specific during which the “Fine Man” gang operated, which saw one of the worst crime waves in Guyana.
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.
“We are not going backwards, we are going forward,” he had observed. 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.
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 scepticism about participating and supporting the work of the Commission, as the Party believes that given the manner in which the CoI was dragged constituted and the commentary from senior Government officials, it is designed to achieve a political outcome and continue the Government’s programme of witch-hunting Opposition personalities.
The PPP/C has even said that the Inquiry should have started from the period 1998 when the real wave of ethno-political violence commenced, which would assist in addressing the root cause of the violence. (Samuel Sukhnandan)