Alliance For Change (AFC) leader, Raphael Trotman yesterday said he hopes President Bharrat Jagdeo meets the man who said he witnessed the murder of eight miners at Lindo Creek and wants justice but is very fearful for his life, and that he provides the man with the highest security.
Speaking to Stabroek News Trotman said that the nation but more so the relatives of the slain miners need answers as to what would have happened at the camp and why. He says the president should meet the man and hear what he has to say as there is need for answers.
Last Sunday, Stabroek News reported that the man said he had witnessed what happened at Lindo Creek and that he wanted residents of Berbice River communities to help him get an audience with the President.
The residents to whom the man has spoken had told Stabroek News that he has abandoned his home out of fear and currently moves from place to place as he has no fixed place of abode. They had said he had been saying the same thing since last June soon after the incident occurred and that back then he had even gone to the police in the area, who did not believe him and ran him off warning him not to repeat what he was saying to anyone.
According to the residents, who are also still fearful, the man had said he wanted to be able to meet President Jagdeo in a public setting to tell his story, so that “if they kill me there the world know.”
According to several residents who have had contact with the man, his account of what occurred at Lindo Creek in early June 2008, has been and continues to be consistent. They said he told them that he was at Leonard Arokium’s camp at Lindo Creek with eight other men.
He related that he had gone off into the bushes “to ease his bowels” when he heard a hail of gunshots. He approached cautiously and from a safe distance, saw a group of approximately five men standing guard while a few others seemed to be questioning the miners as they beat them with sledgehammers; he could hear them hollering, he told the residents.
After a while, the men drenched the camp and the miners with fuel and then lit the camp and its occupants afire, he told the residents. He also claimed that the men stayed there, throwing more fuel whenever the flames began to quell. The man told the residents that the killers then left the area by boat after they were satisfied that the camp and the campers were completely burnt. He recounted to them that while he looked on he trembled with fear at the thought that he might have been caught and killed.
Meanwhile, both Trotman and PNCR leader Robert Corbin yesterday said they are not surprised that the investigation into the gruesome murders of the miners has stalled. According to Corbin, it is clear that there is some desire on the part of the administration to hide what really happened at Lindo Creek.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud earlier this week told Stabroek News that the Jamaican forensic team which took DNA samples from relatives of the miners since last August was still to give the Guyana police the results. He said they cannot move forward with the investigation until the remains of the miners are identified.
Last year, Commissioner Henry Greene had told Stabroek News that one miner was positively identified but he declined to name the miner.
Yesterday Trotman said it was “very, very distressing” that the Lindo Creek massacre has remained unsolved after so many months.
The police declared that the men were killed by the now dead Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins and his gang but many have doubted this and camp owner, Arokium has publicly stated that his men were killed by members of the joint services, a charge that has since been denied by both the army and the police.
Trotman charged that there is a major cover-up going on so that the true facts of what happened at the Lindo Creek are not revealed.
He recalled that Greene had publicly spoken about an eyewitness to the incident but to date there has been no further revelation about this person. Greene was asked on several occasions after he made the pronouncement about the eyewitness and he has declined to answer and one time hinted that the person might be in prison.
Greene had told reporters that the eyewitness had come forward on July 3, and given investigators a detailed account of what transpired at the camp. Greene had said that the identity of the witness could not be disclosed at that time.
According to Greene, “The eyewitness has said that the men were attacked by ‘Fine Man’ and his gang. They went there at night. Basically, they attacked the men. They tied them up, they cooked, etcetera, and then the next night they were shot and killed.”
He added that the eyewitness related that, after the shooting, one of the victims was still alive, and he was beaten with a hammer until he succumbed.
“That is what we have. We have how they arrived there, we have all the details. That is all I can give you for now,” Greene had said.
According to Trotman the fact that Greene has provided no evidence of the alleged eyewitness meant that it was a “fabrication” or whatever eyewitness account was provided to the police lacked credibility.
He recalled that his party along with Arokium and his lawyer, Nigel Hughes, had offered to bring in a British pathologist to conduct DNA tests but the offer was not taken and instead a regional team was brought in and months after no sense of closure and justice has been provided to the relatives of the dead men.
Trotman said it is a travesty that so many months after no answers are being provided and he vowed that the Lindo Creek massacre was an issue his party would keep on the “front burner both locally and internationally.”
Meanwhile, Corbin told Stabroek News that from the inception the government showed marked reluctance to accept the offer of assistance of an international pathologist and as such he is not surprised that the investigation has gone nowhere.
He reiterated that the fact that the police have gone nowhere with the investigation clearly shows that there is a desire to cover up what happened at Lindo Creek.
Corbin said it was not only the Lindo Creek massacre that there seemed to be a reluctance to investigate but also the January 2006 “assassination” of Ronald Waddell. He pointed out that while there was progress in the assassination of former minister of agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, his siblings and his security guard and the massacres at Lusignan and Bartica, there was none in Lindo Creek and Waddell’s death.
“There are many unsolved cases and there is no assurance that they would be solved,” Corbin said.
The opposition leader declined to comment on Greene’s announcement about an eyewitness as he said he would leave the general public to come to their own conclusion about that.
He said he was concerned about the security environment of the country and it was unfortunate for citizens that security matters were not being evenly dealt with.
Shortly after samples were taken from the charred remains of the miners for DNA testing in Jamaica, in late July last year, Arokium had told Stabroek News that he was anxiously awaiting their return, since the results could tell a lot more about the massacre, for example, if remains were found that did not belong to any of the eight men who were thought to have died at Camp Lindo. He had hinted that a ninth man could possibly have been at the site.
Arokium said that he has since given up on ever finding out what happened at his mining camp as according to him “I can’t fight the system” This is also now the conclusion of most of the relatives of the dead men.
The camp owner, who lost his son Dax Arokium and his brother Cecil Arokium in the attack, had said he was also keen on finding out which of the members of the camp sustained the sledgehammer skull wounds as it would indicate who resisted the attackers. The other miners in the camp were Clifton Wong, Nigel Torres, Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry and Lancelot Lee.