GDF questions credibility of Lindo Creek camp owner

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By Devina Samaroo

Lawyers representing the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (COI) have questioned the credibility of the man who popularised allegations that it is the Joint Services who are responsible for the massacre of the eight miners at Lindo Creek ten years ago.

Though he did not want to appear at the public hearings, camp owner Leonard George Arokium testified on Tuesday and revealed why he strongly believes that it was members of the Joint Services who killed his son, Dax and his brother, Cedric along with the other miners.

Arokium says he has no hard evidence but he does not believe it could have been the Fineman Gang because of the tight security at the Unamco checkpoint which he described as “tighter than security at the Office of the President” and the distance between Lindo Creek to Christmas Falls – where the criminal gang had last encountered police.

Compounding his belief are claims by the mother of one of the slain miners, Yonette Torres and an anonymous phone call from a male, both claiming that it was the Joint Services who killed the miners.

Arokium explained that on June 18, 2008, he received a call from Torres, who claimed she received a call from a man informing her that the miners were murdered by the Joint Services. He said later that evening, he received the anonymous phone call making the same claims.

Attorney, Leslie Sobers at the COI. [News Room photo]
Notably, the man who had contacted Torres, told a public hearing in Kwakwani on Saturday last that his neighbour’s son had overheard the Joint Services member chatting in a drunken state that they had just burnt the bodies of some men at a camp.

Arokium said after receiving the calls, he contacted the police who said they had no knowledge of the incident. As such, he decided to visit the camp on June 21, 2008, where he made the discovery.

On his way to the camp, Arokium said he spoke with a man named Anthony, who claimed that the miners often had interactions with members of the Joint Services.

But GDF lawyer Leslie Sobers questioned the credibility of Arokium’s testimony, insinuating that everything he claimed is simply hearsay.

Upon Sobers’ request, the Commission’s Counsel Patrice Henry combed through the report on the Lindo Creek massacre where he found a police statement from an Anthony Herber denying telling Arokium anything.

After reading out the statement, Sobers stated: “I have no more uses for this witness, your honour.”

Sobers also attempted to discredit the claims made by Torres and the anonymous caller, but Arokium contended that the information provided did have some semblance of truth since the miners were indeed discovered dead.

Arokium said the burning question for him is not so much who killed the miners but why did the killers try to cover up their act by burning the bodies.

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