‘Fineman Gang did not kill Lindo Creek miners’ – Freddie Kissoon tells COI

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By Devina Samaroo

Newspaper columnist and former Lecturer of the University of Guyana, Freddie Kissoon today told the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) that his journalistic investigations revealed that it was “geographically impossible” for the notorious “Fineman” gang to murder the eight miners at Lindo Creek in June 2008.

Kissoon, during his testimony, suggested that based on information he received from sources, the security forces and the then People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government had a great involvement in what transpired at Lindo Creek ten years ago.

Several years ago, the Guyana Police Force concluded that slain fugitive Rondell Rawlins also known as “Fineman” and his gang were responsible for the gruesome killing of the eight miners, whose severely burnt remains were found at Lindo Creek in June 2008. However, relatives and the wider public were not convinced.

Reports were that the gang was hiding out at Christmas Falls and the Joint Services, acting on intelligence, went in pursuit of the criminals. Police had said they had a confrontation with the gang on June 6, 2008, at Christmas Falls where one of the gunmen, Otis Fifee was killed while the others escaped.

But Kissoon told the Donald Trotman – COI that based on his findings, it would have been impossible for the gunmen to move from Christmas Falls to Lindo Creek so quickly.

“I thought it strange and unnerving that the Police explanation was that the Fineman Gang crossed over to Christmas Falls and killed the miners because they told the security forces where the Fineman Gang was,” he said.

He added that: “I am convinced in my mind, based on my investigation, that the Fineman Gang, could not, from Christmas Falls – with the security forces pursuing them – could have went through what was called that time ‘The Gate’ which was a passage that leads to the Lindo Creek mine. You had to be part of the investigation at the time to see that it was a geographical impossibility.”

Kissoon said the owner of the camp at Lindo Creek, Leonard Arokium, had contacted him and provided maps to show that there was no possible terrain at the time for the gang to get from Christmas Falls to Lindo Creek before June 21, 2008, to murder the miners.

Additionally, Kissoon said he has information that “someone” connected to the Fineman gang had reached out to the President of the day, Bharrat Jagdeo to inform him of the whereabouts of the gunmen.

“The ‘person’ was more than just close to the Fineman Gang; he was one of the persons who nurtured the gang and provided logistical and resource support to the gang, I don’t think he was a friend of the President, he wanted something from the State or the Government that was very vital to his life,” he explained.

Kissoon said he knows of this because the ‘person’ was facilitated by a close aide of the then President; Kissoon explained that the aide was also his friend.

When asked by Justice Trotman if that friend would be willing to testify at the COI, Kissoon said he and the “aide” are no longer close.

“…people change allegiance. I knew that person when we shared the same political conceptualizations of our country. He went in one direction and I remained in the direction of human rights, respect…he went in the direction of becoming very powerful with Governments, I keep away from Governments,” he stated.

Further, Kissoon recalled that Arokium strongly believed that the miners were killed by the security forces and then they attempted to cover up the incident by burning the bodies and their belongings.

Retired Detective Clemsford Burnette had told the COI earlier that he saw a one foot high and eight feet wide pile of burnt human remains when he and a team visited the scene. Also at the scene were a live round, spent shells, a sledgehammer and several documents including a bank card, birth certificate, and an ID card.

The cries of a widow 

Meanwhile, Onika Butts, the reputed wife of the late Dax Arokium told the COI that she was not satisfied with the response received from the then Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee when she met with him in August 2008.

“That man just looked at me like silently, he had nothing to say to me. I was asking questions like ‘I want answers, if it was your child, wouldn’t you want answers?’ and he just, his mouth was sealed, nothing and I was just forced to leave because I couldn’t deal with it, he wasn’t saying anything to me,” she stated.

Onika Butts

At the time, she had a three-year-old daughter and was seven months pregnant with her second child for Dax Arokium, one of the men who was killed at Lindo Creek. Butts said the death of her husband has taken a great toll on her family, especially her son whom she said has fallen in his performance in school now that the case has been reopened.

The mother broke down in tears as she related to the Commission her inability to answer her son’s yearning question of what happened to his father.

“He’s saying that he needs answers for his father and that everybody is with their father and he doesn’t have a father to take him out and to go tours with him and it’s so hard explaining to him what happened with his father because I don’t even know,” the mother wept.

In her testimony, Butts said no one from the police or Government ever contacted her regarding the death or investigation into the matter. This is a similar testimony of other relatives of the victims who came forward. The next public hearing is scheduled for March 13, 2018.

See previous story here: https://newsroom.gy/2018/03/01/testimonies-of-spirits-and-burnt-bones-at-lindo-creek-coi/

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