‘Paper Shorts’ death: Govt rejects US Report that Police sergeant’s claim were not investigated

…AG says report patently false

The Guyana Government is refuting a finding by the United States’ Department of State that the damning allegations made by Police Sergeant Dion Bascom against senior officers of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) last year was not investigated.
In its 2022 Human Rights Report on Guyana, the State Department stated “…In August [2022], police officer Dion Bascom alleged that a businessman bribed members of the Guyana Police Force to foil an investigation into an execution-style killing of Ricardo Fagundes, a gold miner. As of October [2022], police had not investigated Bascom’s claims.”
However, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, S.C., had debunked this finding, saying it is “palpably erroneous” in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Nandlall, it is a matter of public record that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of the Guyana Police Force in August 2022 conducted an investigation into the matter and a subsequent report was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice. He also reminded that Bascom had refused to participate in the probe or provide any evidence to support his allegations.
In addition, the Attorney General further recalled that the Guyana Government had even requested assistance from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Security System (RSS) to investigate these allegations made by Bascom.
That investigative team was headed by a former Detective Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police Service, Serious and Organised Crime Command (United Kingdom). Upon completion of the investigation, a report was issued and published in the media on September 10, 2022.
Among the findings of the RSS Report is that the bribery allegations made by Sergeant Bascom against the GPF, namely, that Detective Supt. Mitchell Caesar and Inspector NIgel Stephens in an attempt to cover up the unlawful killing/homicide of Fagundes were hearsay having no provenance.
It was also found that while Bascom has alleged that the GPF has tried to cover-up the killing of Fagundes, there is evidence that the Force has diligently sought Regional and International assistance in solving this case.
Moreover, with regards to Bascom’s allegation that there was a device in the possession of the police which identified Mark Richmond’s cell phone as being at the scene at the time of Fagundes murder, the RSS team reported that the GPF’s technical officer, ASP Rodwell Sarrabo, has confirmed that the Police Force does not have any such technology and that Sgt. Bascom was never at the crime scene with him.
It is standard practice that the Department of State would issue questionnaires to various government agencies when conducting their research in preparation for their report. The questionnaires submitted to the State were returned in the accordance with the stipulated deadline which was September 12, 2022.
However, AG Nandlall contended that during the reporting period, the US State Department did not engage the Guyana Police Force on this particular matter.
“Significantly the Guyana Police Force was not engaged in respect of the death of Ricardo Fagundes or interdicted Sergeant Bascom’s allegation by those who prepared the report, as is the practice… It is unclear where the Department of State gathered its information from in relation to the allegation made by interdicted Sergeant Dion Bascom. However, what is clear is that the information published in relation thereto is patently false,” the Attorney General noted.
Nevertheless, he indicated in Wednesday’s missive that the Guyana Government will soon engage the Department of State in respect of the “inaccuracies” highlighted in the 2022 Human Rights Report as well as other matters contained in the said Report with a view of “having such falsehoods corrected”.
Sergeant Bascom was among several persons arrested by the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) on August 8, 2022 after a quantity of cocaine was discovered at a house on Norton Street, Georgetown.
Days later, Sergeant Bascom, seemingly angered by his arrest, during several Facebook live videos made damning allegations of corruption against several senior Police detectives and prominent businessman Azruddin Mohamed.
Bascom has alleged that Police ranks have accepted bribes and are “covering up” the murder of Fagundes, called “Paper Shorts”, who was gunned down outside a night club on Main Street, Georgetown, in March 2021. He later deleted the videos out of fear for his family members’ lives.
Acting Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken and Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum have already debunked Sergeant Bascom’s allegations, calling them “malicious and untrue”.
Businessman Mohamed, who, from the onset, had distanced himself from the allegations, has since filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against Sergeant Bascom, in which he contended in his Statement of Claim that the words and statements uttered by Bascom are all untrue, false, dangerous, disingenuous, malicious, irrational, unfair, unsubstantiated, unfounded, and baseless, thereby tarnishing and lowering his reputation.
Bascom is also facing a second $50 million lawsuit that was filed by 44-year-old Mark Richmond, who is attached to Mohamed’s Enterprise as a security detail, whom the sergeant had alleged was involved in the shooting.
Moreover, Superintendent Caesar, through his lawyer, had also threatened to take legal action against Sergeant Bascom if he did not remove the posts and offer him an apology and $50 million in compensation. (G8)