The murders at the Sawh residence remain unsolved

Two weeks ago, Mr Bob Persaud, the brother-in-law of the late Mr Satyadeow Sawh suggested that self-confessed drug lord Mr Roger Khan could have answers on the murder of Sawh, two of his siblings and a security guard in 2006.  Mr Persaud has canvassed the Canadian government for assistance in accessing Mr Khan in his US prison cell for pointed questioning.

Mr Persaud is the first relative of Mr Sawh to openly raise the possibility that the government’s carefully scripted explanation of the killing of Mr Sawh might not be accurate. Mr Persaud has touched on a theory that has been in circulation for some time now but one which has not been adequately probed as the government was disinterested for reasons of self-preservation.

Since, Mr Persaud’s views were reported in the Sunday Stabroek both Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Clement Rohee and Police Commissioner Mr Henry Greene have sought to dismiss the possibility that Mr Khan’s infamous Phantom Squad might have had anything to do with Mr Sawh’s murder. Mr Greene was adamant that it was Fineman’s gang. Mr Rohee’s position is that he is not aware of any evidence of the involvement of Mr Khan’s gang. Of course, the absence of evidence and Mr Greene’s stubborn insistence on Fineman’s involvement do not negate the possibility that Mr Khan’s gang might have had a hand in the killings particularly in the backdrop of the police force’s woeful inability to properly investigate crimes of this type.

The first dissonant feature of the murders relative to the supposition that Fineman’s gang was involved was the military-style precision of the attack. The attackers were well-outfitted and operated in the manner of clinical, well-rehearsed assassins. It was not the modus operandi of the Fineman depredations. Indeed, when he finally met his end, Fineman, though apparently planning a strike to gather arms, was not accoutred in the manner that accorded with the murders at the Sawh’s residence.

Second, the sheer savagery of the attack had a message to it. After killing the guard, a woman, Mr Persaud’s wife, was pulled from under a bed and shot to death. The Minister himself was fatally shot and two of his siblings put to lie on top of each other and shot. Luckily one survived. Though there had been a suggestion that money was demanded it is clear that that was not the motive and not much effort was made to look for anything of value. The primary motive had been to kill Minister Sawh and his family.

Why this mission would be undertaken by Fineman remains a mystery up to today. Why would Minister Sawh of all persons be targeted? There is no reason or logic to it. There is however greater reason and logic to another theory even if there is no evidence to support it at the moment. Mr Khan had initially been assured that he would be granted a Timber Sales Agreement for a forestry concession in the south of the country. After pressure was applied by the US as a result of its concerns that Mr Khan was a known drug trafficker and after the matter was reported in the press, clumsy efforts were made to interdict the conferral of the lease to Mr Khan.

Considering the code of violence that governed his nefarious drug trade it would not be beyond reason that Mr Khan might have felt betrayed by the withdrawal of the concession and that elements of the Phantom Squad became involved in the brutal murder of Minister Sawh, who held the portfolio for forestry, and the others so as to send the message that goes with the trade. The timeline of the events are consistent with this possibility.

Such a sequence of events would be a veritable case of Mr Khan’s group turning on an important member of the government he said he helped to fight the prison-break criminals after 2002.

The killing of Minister Sawh is one in a brutal series of events that the Jagdeo administration has steadfastly refused to properly investigate because of the likelihood of what might be exposed. Instead the police are left to come up with postulates that never sound plausible and never lead to satisfactory results. Ironically in the Sawh case, the accused that were apprehended died and the others who supposedly were involved have not yet been snared.

As was pointed out in yesterday’s news item the government and its criminal justice system did not make use of the mechanisms which possibly could lead to some answers or at least the shaping of the case i.e. an inquest or a commission of inquiry. In the hours after the murders there appeared no concerted effort to track down the killers or to elicit expert assistance from nearby to investigate. Was that the natural reaction of a government shocked to the core by the murder of one of its most popular and influential ministers? No, it was not.

There appears to be no prospect for an adequate investigation of the murders at the Sawh residence in what remains of the life of this administration. It however will have to be high on the agenda of the next administration along with the prison break, the violence on the East Coast, the murders of hundreds of men by both sides, the role of Mr Khan and the drug business and the Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo massacres just to name a few. Understanding these events and unearthing the truth behind them is important for moving on with reconciliations on many fronts.

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