GDF criticised for excluding camp owner from internal investigation

first_imgLindo Creek CoI…Commissioner to visit campsiteThe Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was heavily criticised on Monday for excluding the evidence of Lindo Creek mining camp owner Leonard Arokium from an internal investigation conducted to determine whether its ranks were involved in the June 21, 2008 massacre.Commission Chairman, retired Justice Donald TrotmanUpon resumption of the presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI), the panel heard from Major Andy Pompey, who headed the unit which was appointed to carry out the inquiry among members of the GDF.Back in 2008, Pompey was a Captain and head of the Intelligence Corps. He told the CoI that the five-member unit, which he headed, interviewed the 24-member Joint Services unit that was deployed to the area at the time. However, the Commission thought it was rather strange that the Army did not interview a man who was making a serious allegation.Arokium had told officials that information he received from eyewitnesses made it clear that it was the Joint Services that were responsible for the deaths of his son, brother, and six other miners in his employ.The Joint Services unit was combing the area and had, days before, been involved in a “shootout” with the “Fineman gang”. They reportedly killed at least two members of the gang.CoI Chairman, Justice Donald Trotman questioned the mode of operation of the GDF’s investigating team, inquiring from Pompey, the reason for not questioning Arokium.“Here is Mr Arokium making these allegations. You were asked to investigate the circumstances and you didn’t think at least, if no one else, you should have interviewed Mr Arokium, who was making these allegations?”Pompey said he was working with a directive at the time. According to him, he was restricted to interviewing only the ranks identified.“The persons interviewed by the team were the persons who the directive I received were to be interviewed and those persons were the only ones who came and were interviewed,” he explained.However, as part of his interrogation of ranks, Pompey did not call upon Arokium.Meanwhile, retired Justice Trotman said on Monday that as the Commission moved apace with its work, a number of outreach activities critical to the investigation have been planned.The team will commence a four-day visit to the Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice Region on Wednesday. Its first visit on Wednesday will be a public conversation with residents at Constabulary Hall, Linden.The following day, the team will visit Goat Farm Ituni, where interviews will be conducted with Kwakwani residents.Then on Friday, the team will visit the Arokium campsite, Lindo Creek. It also has on schedule a visit to Christmas Falls, the site where members of the Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins gang were killed.The following day, the Commission will be engaged in a public conversation at the Kwakwani Workers Club before returning to Georgetown.Among the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the GDF unit was the investigation of “allegations of murder being made against ranks of the Joint Services by Mr Leonard Arokium and other family members of the deceased”.Some time between June 12, 2008, and June 24, 2008, miners Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres were shot and killed, and their bodies burnt at the Upper Berbice River mining camp, which was being operated by Leonard Arokium.The CoI was established to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the killings of eight miners and to report its findings and recommendations to President David Granger.last_img read more