Murder of Berbice boys – authorities not against Argentina team investigating

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Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday said the government is not opposed to the help of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team – EAAF – in the investigation into the murders of teen cousins Joel and Isaiah Henry and Haresh Singh.

“We don’t have an objection because there is nothing to hide,” Jagdeo said in response to questions asked at a press conference held at the Arthur Chung Conference Center.

However, the Vice President brushed aside calls for the government to fund the team’s visit to Guyana, noting that the government was never approached for such funding.

“I thought they…had funding for this. I am sure they can bring the team here,” Jagdeo said.

He added that: “if we set a precedent of this nature, then every person –we brought in the CARICOM team –every person would bring in their own person.”

The Argentina team is asking for $4 million in professional fees, with the exception of travel, food and board. They have also asked for an additional US$1,000 to expedite the shipping of equipment that they would need.

The team will include a Forensic Anthropologist from Argentina, two Forensic Pathologist and a Criminalist – all from Spain.

At a press conference on November 3, Attorney-at-law, Nigel Hughes who is representing the interest of the Henry family, said local police investigators, and by extension, the Regional Security System (RSS) team, have failed in their attempts to solve the murders.

His comments came hours after the Guyana Police Force offered a reward of $3M for any information leading the arrest of the murderers.

Hughes said the reward offered by the police is an admission of failure that they are unable to solve crime with their present means.

As such, he is suggesting that a capable team from Argentina, who indicated a willingness to come here, investigate the murders.

Hughes said while the police have welcomed the involvement of the team, there has been no response from the Minister of Home Affairs after several letters were written.

Hughes said as it is now, there are many doubts in relation to the investigation done by the Guyana Police Force. He said the police are yet to locate the primary crime scene; the trousers that Joel was wearing was never sent for forensic examination; the missing slipper for Isaiah was never found and young rice (rice not ready for harvesting) in a nearby field where the bodies were found, were harvested before police combed the area

“This is not your regular common guard murder; it is an open gaping wound that is getting septic and it is not solved, there is likely to be more problems,” the lawyer said.

The mutilated bodies of Isaiah, 16, and Joel, 18, were found in the Cotton Tree backlands, West Coast Berbice on September 6. The killers carved out a huge ‘X’ on Isaiah’s head while they cut open Joel’s chest.

The cousins had left their Number 3 Village, West Coast Berbice home to go into the backdam to pick coconuts the day before their bodies were found.

A Post Mortem Examination (PME) found that they both died from haemorrhage and shock due to multiple incised injuries including severed spines. Approximately 27 persons were arrested during the course of the investigation but all were released due to lack of evidence.

On September 14, the police determined that the boys were murdered somewhere else and then dumped in the backlands of Cotton Tree.

Subsequently, a total of 75 ranks drawn from Region 5, the Major Crimes Unit and the Guyana Defence Force led by Region 5 Divisional Commander and a Lt Colonel along with Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh combed the backlands of Number Two and Three Villages on the West Coast of Berbice with the hope of finding the area where the teen cousins were killed.

Ranks on the ground also received aerial support via a helicopter from the Guyana Defence Force.

Mass protests erupted following the killings. It was during those protests that 17-year-old Haresh Singh was killed. The police have not been able to arrest anyone in connection with his murder.

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