Lindo Creek trek convinces relatives that ‘Fineman Gang’ did not murder miners
By Devina Samaroo
“I am just hoping it never happened,” Onika Butts said, as she held back tears.
Butts was a part of the team led by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) that embarked on a journey on Friday (May 11, 2018) to the Lindo Creek mining camp where her husband and father of her two children, Dax Arokium was murdered in June 2008.
She endured a two-hour long bumpy ride through the Unamco Trail and then trekked for another two hours and thirty minutes through a treacherous terrain, crossing five creeks while shielding from mischievous monkeys that kept pelting rubbles from above.
When she finally reached the destination, Onika collapsed and broke down in tears as memories of her husband flooded her mind.
Other family and friends of the eight miners also endured the grueling voyage and they all concluded after the journey – that it would have been highly impossible for the Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins gang to have ran from Christmas Falls to Lindo Creek, murder the men and then burn their bodies with the Joint Services hot on their trail.
The bereaved families used the opportunity to pay homage to the miners by laying flowers at the exact location where the charred bones were discovered by owner of the camp, Leonard Arokium on June 21, 2008.
Bits of the blue tarpaulin which the bodies were burnt on remained at the scene along with an enamel cup, a rocket battery, engines and a lavador – an equipment used in the diamond mining process.
Onika told reporters that after travelling through the trail, she is convinced that the criminal gang could not have been responsible for her husband’s death.
“The journey that I took was challenging and from what they’re saying that it’s Fineman, it’s highly impossible for a man on the run to commit such a crime knowing that people are after him,” she reasoned.
Onika said she still cannot believe her husband is gone; she questions everyday why he was taken away from her.
“I just can’t understand. I still can’t believe it happened. I was just hoping it never happened,” Onika said.
Kevin Campbell, a close friend of the Arokiums, is very familiar with the trail as he lives and works in those areas. Campbell was the one who guided the COI team through the jungle and he too was positive that criminals on the run could not have committed the murders.
“It’s highly impossible. They can’t meet here. You yourself see how long we take it here, they can’t meet here. It’s not they do it. I know it from my heart is not they do it. I ain’t buying duh and no lil child gonna buy duh,” Campbell stated.
The police had received a statement from an alleged gang member whom they had picked up on the Ituni/Kwakwani Trail after the massacre. Police claim Dwayne Williams, who was 15-years-old at the time, said the Fineman Gang stumbled upon the Lindo Creek miners after running away from Christmas Falls after one of the gang members were shot dead by police. Williams, in his statement, said the miners were held hostage but they were subsequently killed, and their bodies burnt by a gang member named ‘Magic’ (Cecil Ramcharran).
Meanwhile, Edmond Torres, the father of 17-year-old Nigel who was also massacred, also feels the same way.
“I am very sad. I nearly burst into tears just now when I see that girl [Onika Butts] cry. I glad to reach here to see where my son died and burn, and I bring my children to see where their brother died… It’s not the Fineman Gang, it’s not them,” Torres told reporters.
WHATEVER IT TAKES
The COI was established by President David Granger to investigate and make findings of fact on all matters in relation to the killings of Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry, Lancelot Lee, Compton Speirs, Nigel Torres and Clifton Berry Wong.
Relatives have long accused the Joint Services of mistaking the miners for criminals and killing them; the four-year-long police investigation into the murders did not produce any criminal charges against anyone.
Commissioner Donald Trotman said it was absolutely necessary for the team to travel to the crime scene in order to have a firsthand experience of what the journey would be like through the trails – in order to get a better understanding of the stories being told by members of the Joint Services who have so far testified.
Justice Trotman said he will do all it takes to uncover the truth about the death of those eight innocent men.
“We cannot dwell upon the atrocities and sorrows, we have to dwell on the hopes and the future so that our being here today would very well mean that no similar atrocities in the future will be committed by anyone else in our nation and we hope also that our members here will encourage the appropriate authorities of our State and government to accord the responsibilities which they have to protect their citizens in times of peace and in times of peril,” he said.
The Commission will be hosting two final public hearings on May 14 and 15 and put together a report of its findings and recommendations which it hopes to submit to the Head-of-State by June month-end.