Joint Services ranks were not eliminated from Lindo Creek killing – OPR Head

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By Devina Samaroo

Head of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), Heeralall Mackenlall says he was unable to eliminate or implicate Joint Services ranks in the 2008 Lindo Creek murder of eight miners.

The OPR was called in to investigate rumors that Joint Services ranks were responsible for the killings.

Mackenlall, who was the OPR Deputy at the time, told the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) today that he spent about two weeks interviewing persons, including family members of the deceased, civilians and law enforcement officers and even visited the crime scene but he was unable to ascertain the origin of the rumor.

He said when he spoke with George Arokium – the father of one of the miners who was killed – he [Arokium] said Yonette Torres – the mother of one of the miners who was killed – alleged that the police and soldiers murdered the miners.

However, Mackenlall said when he spoke with Torres, she denied making the allegation.

At the end of his investigation, Mackenlall said he could neither confirm nor deny whether the joint services killed the miners.

Attorney-at-Law for the Commission of Inquiry, Patrice Henry: Would you agree with me that at the end of your investigation you were unable to eliminate or implicate the Joint Services?

Mackenlall: Yes, Sir

Henry: So just as how the allegation surfaced or as you put it the rumour surfaced, at the end of the two weeks you were back to the same position; nothing useful came out.

Mackenlall: That’s right, Sir.

During his investigation, the OPR Head said he interviewed the 23 joint services ranks who were deployed to the area after the then Crime Chief Seelall Persaud and his team confronted the Fineman Gang at Christmas Falls on June 6, 2008.

Though he could not remember the names of all the ranks, Mackenlall informed the Commission of those who were in charge.

Mackenlall said a man named Sewnarine headed the Guyana Police Force (GPF) component of the Joint Services, Lieutenant Woolford led the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) ranks while Captain Sourvenir was in charge of the army’s Special Forces.

He added that the names of all the members of the Joint Services team would be at the Police Headquarters where the then headquarters of ‘E’ and ‘F’ Division were located.

Based on questioning from the COI Attorney, Mackenlall confirmed that his investigation proved that the Joint Services team was in the “Lindo Creek area”.

Mackenlall further told the COI that their firearms were tested by a Jamaican team which confirmed that the guns were fired.

Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken, who was on Seelall’s team to Christmas Falls, faced tough questions from Henry and the Commissioner Donald Trotman.

Assistant Police Commissioner, Clifton Hicken

Hicken recalled his confrontation with the Fineman Gang and despite persistent questioning, denied that he ever visited Lindo Creek.

Corroborating Seelall’s account of what transpired, Hicken said the team that went to Christmas Falls and returned to Georgetown on instructions from the then Police Commissioner Henry Greene.

Based on reports, a 23-member joint services team was subsequently deployed to the area to pursue the gang.

When repeatedly asked by Commissioner Trotman and Counsel Henry whether the miners who were killed at Lindo Creek could have been mistaken for members of the Fineman Gang, Hicken said he would not know.

Hicken also told the COI that OPR never questioned him relating to the rumors that it was the police who killed the miners.

According to Hicken, that would have been unwise.

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