Police/Army most likely killed, burnt Lindo Creek miners

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  • ‘Fineman Gang’ cleared of murder of miners
  • Criminal Investigation could find guilty officers

By Devina Samaroo

The country’s security forces are now further implicated in the murder of eight miners ten years ago, after a presidential inquiry cleared the notorious Fineman Gang of the heinous crime which occurred at Lindo Creek, Region Ten.

Justice Donald Trotman – who chaired the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry into the unsolved murders – told News Room Thursday that based on the evidence gathered, it is most accurate to say with certainty who did not kill the miners.

Justice Donald Trotman

Through a thorough process of elimination, he noted that the only other suspects are members of the Joint Services who were in the area at the average time of death between June 7 – 21, 2008.

“There are strong reasons to support the view held by many that they were killed by ranks of the Joint Services,” Justice Trotman stated.

“What, of course, remains in some doubt, is what ranks of the Joint Services actually did the killing, since there were Defence Force and Police ranks,” he explained.

Also uncertain, he said, is whether the ranks acted out of their own volition or based on orders; or whether it was a mistake.

Justice Trotman said the COI has also ruled out the motive of robbery/murder by other persons, since there was no evidence to support those theories.

“If it wasn’t the Fineman Gang in the area, there were no other persons in the area, according to the evidence…there are no evidence that any civilians came in from Kwakwani or any of the surrounding areas or any loggers or other miners in the area,” he explained.

Family members and several independent minds including lawyers have always been suspicious of the involvement of the Police and Army in the deaths of the miners, who were shot and then their bodies burnt to nothing but bones.

The incident occurred during the height of the country’s deadliest crime sprees, when Joint Services ranks were in hot pursuit of the country’s most wanted men.

The Fineman Gang was cleared of the crime based on findings, including testimonies from experts. According to Justice Trotman, “it was not reasonably possible” for the country’s most wanted men to have moved from their last seen location at Christmas Falls on June 7, 2008 and travel to Lindo Creek.

Map showing distance between Christmas Falls and the Arokium Camp at Lindo Creek

The evidences supporting this conclusion are the geography of the areas, technical findings by surveyors and knowledge from civilians who know the terrain.

“While we don’t want to lay our heads down on a block and say definitely it’s the Joint Services, it seems from a process of elimination and exclusion that it is more likely, if anybody did it at all, it was the Joint Services ranks,” Justice Trotman stated.

Among the more than twenty recommendations laid out in the COI Report which was submitted to President David Granger is for there to be a resumption of the criminal investigation into the murders.

Justice Trotman is of the view that the authorities who initially investigated the crime did not do an adequate job in trying to find the perpetrators and the reopening of the case at this juncture could find some of those who are guilty.

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) had conducted an investigation into the incident and concluded that all the evidence pointed to the Fineman Gang. The Force’s major evidence was the testimony of a teen member of the gang, who allegedly confessed to being present when the miners were murdered.

That gang member – who is under police protection – was interviewed twice by the COI team but Justice Trotman says his testimony was “not helpful”.

“He was in police protection and therefore we did not feel that he was in a position to give his information as freely and independently as he could have given,” he stated, noting that the individual’s testimony could be considered “not credible”.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt nonetheless, Justice Trotman said “even if it was credible, the mere fact that he has been under police protection for so many years makes whatever he wants to say not very reliable.”

Justice Trotman noted too that “the fact that if he said that he was present when the Fineman Gang killed the miners, he has not been charged…he should have been charged by the police.”

The individual has been under protective custody since 2008 “pending charges”, according to the Police Force.
Justice Trotman believes that with the new information coming out of the COI Report, the GPF and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would be able to conduct a better investigation aimed at finding and charging those guilty of the murders.

The COI was established by President Granger to determine how the miners were killed, who did not kill them, why they were killed and who might have actually done the killings.

The burnt remains of the eight men were discovered by the owner of the camp, Leonard Arokium on June 21, 2008.

Those who perished were Dax Arokium, Cecil Arokium, Bonny Harry, Nigel Torres, Horace Drakes, Lancelot Lee and Compton Speirs.

Read more about the Lindo Creek Massacre:

 

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