Police seemed uninterested in investigating Lindo Creek massacre – Hughes

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Devina Samaroo

Prominent Attorney Nigel Hughes today told the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) that the Police Force seemed very uninterested in investigating the circumstances surrounding the 2008 Lindo Creek massacre.

Hughes was hired by relatives of the deceased to conduct an independent investigation into the tragic incident.

“…there was a concentration on the identification of the remains and they seemed to have abandoned the investigation and we wrote to the Commissioner of Police indicating that concern, it seemed as if they were no longer interested in investigating,” Hughes testified.

In fact, there was a flurry of letters between Hughes and the then Top Cop, Henry Greene where repeated attempts were made to get the Guyana Police Force/ the Government to retain the services of a government-owned firm in the United Kingdom visit Guyana and offer forensic science services.

Hughes told the COI that this was a matter of urgency as, with the passage of time, the crime scene was being constantly degraded.

However, the high-flying lawyer said he learned through media reports that the Government hired teams from Jamaica and Trinidad but they were tasked with identifying the burnt remains of the eight miners instead of probing the circumstances surrounding their death.

Based on his independent investigation, Hughes said he collected statements from several persons, many of whom feared that their lives were in danger.

One of those persons was Yonnette Torres, the mother of Nigel Torres – one of the men who was murdered.

Hughes read Torres’ entire statement before the COI. The statement gave a chilling account of heavy police presence in the area around the same time the massacre was suspected to have occurred.

According to the statement, Torres, who lived in the vicinity of Kwakwani, saw a helicopter almost every day in the area and police vehicles traversing in and out of the backdam (where Christmas Falls and Lindo Creek were located).

She also said that police were taking in drums of fuel into the backdam. Torres outlined in her statement that she was extremely worried about the safety of her son given the heightened police presence in the area.

She said she approached a “black ops” cop at one point inquiring about her son but the police officer told her that no one was there and that they had just “boomed” out the place.

Torres said she subsequently learnt of the discovery of the burnt remains at Lindo Creek.

Interestingly, Head of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), Heeralall Mackenlall, who was investigating allegations of police involvement in the murders, had told the COI that George Arokium – the father of one of the miners who was killed – said he first heard those allegations from Torres.

But Mackenlall said when he spoke with Torres, she denied making those claims.

Meanwhile, Hughes further told the COI that he took statements from several other persons including a police officer who was stationed at the Itabu Landing. Hughes said the officer was requested to go to Christmas Falls on June 7, 2008, and whilst there, he heard distant gunshots.

Hughes suspected that it was around this time that the miners were murdered.

The Attorney further told the COI that he was reliably informed that Uree Varswyck – who was a former Tactical Services Unit officer – was part of the joint services squad that went into the area.

Varswyck was one of the prisoners who was shot dead following the escape from the Camp Street Prison last year.

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