Gov’t, Police “clearly did nothing” about the Lindo Creek Massacre – Justice Trotman

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By Devina Samaroo

Though the one-man Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the 2008 Lindo Creek massacre is still ongoing, Chairman Justice (r’td) Donald Trotman has already concluded that there was no legal, administrative or executive interest by the former administration in conducting a thorough investigation into the murder of the eight miners.

Fielding questions from curious residents at a public outreach at Kwakwani in Region Ten on Saturday morning, Justice Trotman expressed dissatisfaction with the police’s investigation into the murders.

“There was no inquest; there was no formal statutory inquiry. If people say the police were involved, the police set up their own inquiry, if people say the army was involved, the army set up their own inquiry by their own people,” the COI Chairman explained.

“What is perhaps more worrying is that nothing came out of it,” Justice Trotman lamented, noting that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) strangely advised that the case be closed and no one was ever prosecuted for the murders.

He reasoned that the best time to have done a proper investigation was ten years ago and therefore noted that those who had the authority showed no interest in finding out the truth.

Justice (r’td) Donald Trotman

“Those who had the authority, legal, administrative, executive, clearly did nothing, they went through the motions of doing something knowing that in the end, they will say that nothing really can be done,” Justice Trotman said.

On June 21, 2008, the charred remains of the eight miners were found by owner of the camp, Leonard Arokium. Based on intuition and compelling hearsay, relatives and friends accused the Joint Services of mistaking the miners for the Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins Gang and killed them.

The police investigation into the murders spanned four years and at the end of it, they concluded that the murders were committed by the Fineman Gang. The public hearings of the COI have so far revealed that the police and army did not thoroughly investigate allegations that its officers were involved.

It also showed that the authorities did not heed certain advice such as to retain the services of a forensic anthropologist to aid in the investigation. Most family members and persons in the area where the crime occurred were also not interviewed by the team that investigated the murders.

The COI will be holding two final public hearings on May 14 and 15 and will subsequently commence the task of putting together the report of findings and recommendations which will be submitted to President David Granger.

As such, Justice Trotman said it was extremely important that the Commission visit the crime scene at Lindo Creek so that experience could be captured in the report.

PROVING THE CRITICS WRONG

“They felt an old man couldn’t make this trip!” Justice Trotman told naysayers and critics of the COI.

On Friday (May 11, 2018), Justice Trotman, an octogenarian, powered through a rough jungle terrain riddled with steep, narrow, and sometimes slushy hills, uneven grounds and threatening creeks in order to revisit the scene of the heinous crime.

The trip was absolutely necessary, he emphasised, and despite his “aches and pains”, Justice Trotman declared that the journey was worth it.

“There are some aching bones this morning,” Justice Trotman admitted during the public outreach in Kwakwani – the morning after the journey that went into night.

A section of the gathering at the public outreach in Kwakwani. [News Room photos]
“But these aches and pains that I am having are really nothing, nothing at all to the aches and pains and suffering that the surviving relatives of these unfortunate dead men are suffering,” he expressed.

According to the COI Chairman, if the team hadn’t made the trip, “the naysayers would have been laughing all over the place.”

He explained that revisiting the crime scene was vital since it provided a firsthand experience of how the killers could have arrived at the camp where the miners were earning an honest living at the time of their demise.

It was also necessary to provide some amount of closure to grieving relatives and friends who are still longing for answers about the murder of their loved ones, ten years later.

Justice Trotman explained that the entire activity is about bringing closure and justice. He posited that though he is a retired judge, he has not retired from justice.

The COI Chairman assured that the report he will compile will show the “right results” because after a close to a decade, the “right thing” has finally been done.

The Lindo Creek Massacre victims. From L-R: Bonny Harry, Cecil Arokium, Clifton Wong, Compton Speirs, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Lancelot Lee and Nigel Torres

He explained that “the truth doesn’t come overnight” and promised grieving friends and family that one day “the truth will out”.

“The truth has a way of coming through the thickest darkness and come to light…you will hear the truth and the truth will make you free,” he said.

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