George Arokium, the owner of the Lindo Creek Mining Camp who had discovered the burnt remains of eight miners on June 21, said he had received no notification that his miners should vacate the area.
The man said that at the beginning of the search for wanted man Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins, he and another of his sons were in another interior location.
In a written statement shared with this newspaper yesterday, Arokium voiced disapproval of the recent public debate on the killings, but said that after he listened to and read the police’s assertions on the issue, he had to ask who the message to vacate, if any, was given to.
In the statement, Arokium said that at the time of the “Fineman saga”, his eldest son was in the North West District, while he and his youngest son were at a place he called ‘Oko Backdam’ in the lower Cuyuni River; the now deceased Dax, he said, had left to go to Lindo Creek.
“So who did they really give the message to?,” he questioned.
Referring to utterances by Police Commissioner (ag) Henry Greene that miners in the area were warned to vacate, Arokium said the only miners working in the area at the time were the ones who were killed.
According to him, the Joint Services were fully aware that men were working nearby on a camp and they could have informed the miners and ordered them to leave.
Greene had said at a press conference last week, “We knew people were in the area doing logging and mining and the relevant ministries issued warnings for them to leave.” He said whether the men heard the announcement but refused to leave or did not hear the warning at all was still an issue to be cleared up.
Greene had said too that what was clear was that Arokium knew about the Joint Services activities in the area as he had enquired from a policewoman at Kwakwani when it was safe for him to travel to the area.
Meanwhile, Arokium in his statement yesterday said he has not been uncooperative or avoiding the police.
Rather, he said, he had wanted to speak with the media before he spoke to the police.
He said he had reached to Georgetown around eight on that night and about three hours later, Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, Greene and senior joint services officers together with at last 30 junior ranks were guests at his West Coast Demerara home.
He said during that visit President Bharrat Jagdeo had telephoned and he spoke with him. He said the President called from Canada to express his condolences and offered words of comfort to him.
Further, the man said, he assisted the Joint Services by sending one of the deceased’s brothers to help them locate the crime scene on Sunday June 22.
According to him, he later received calls from senior officers who claimed that the man could not find the site and it was imperative for him to accompany them. Arokium said he refused and about half an hour later, he was called again and was informed that the site was found.
There is still much doubt over the way in which the men were killed and their bodies and their possessions burnt. Some observers believe that there are still many unanswered questions which the security forces have not addressed and since they have been accused of committing such a heinous crime an independent inquiry was required.
President Jagdeo last week told the media that while he had not decided whether to that route, if an inquiry was to be done it would have to include the other recent killings to determine whether there was any political involvement.
Stabroek News had been told that lawmen who visited the Lindo Creek campsite found evidence of some of the miners being tortured. This newspaper has been informed that one of the skulls found at the location had an impression suggesting that the person was beaten in the head. According to information, on arrival at the camp all the lawmen found were burnt bones. Reports are that the campsite has been sealed off to facilitate the work of the US forensic expert.
However, the last word on that was that the US government was still to respond to a request for forensic pathology assistance.