The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has advised that the police locate the boy at the centre of the alleged child solicitation that is said to involve Office of the President Press Officer, Kwame McCoy.
President Bharrat Jagdeo revealed this yesterday as he responded to reporters’ questions at a hastily called media briefing at the International Conference Centre at Liliendaal. The president said that he thought that the allegations made were serious and had asked the police to investigate and has received a verbal report from the Commissioner of Police.
Social activist Mark Benschop had broadcast the 20-minute recording online at Benschop Radio, hosted by guyanaobservernews.org. On the recording, the two speakers discuss plans for a sexual liaison. The case has attracted much attention locally with several persons and organizations, including the main opposition, PNCR, expressing concern. Stating that he had charged the police to fully investigate the matter, Jagdeo said yesterday that the police have thus far, only gotten a statement from McCoy. He stated that Benschop, whom he said “seems to be an advocate for this matter”, has refused to give a statement and the police cannot locate the boy. “The report was sent to the DPP, then I think the DPP has offered some advice that they must find this boy”, the Head of State said adding that the police “have what seems to be a series of calls made from Benschop’s office to McCoy’s office”.
Contacted yesterday, Benschop denied that he had refused to cooperate with the police. “I said to the police that I am willing to cooperate with the police at any point if they are willing to state specifically what they want from me”, he stated. He said that he had “everything” that the police need for their investigation including a video recording. He declared that the police have not admitted that a crime has been committed and said they need to question McCoy.
Last week the social activist had said that he was willing to cooperate with law enforcement officials stating that the family of the 15-year-old boy on the tape had gone to him because they had no faith in the police. “I am responsible for making that tape”, he had said. Yesterday, he stated that he has more “evidence” including a video recording but noted that he will not be a part of any investigation if McCoy is not questioned.
McCoy had sued several media houses for linking him to the tape and had called it a fabrication.
Meantime, asked whether in light of the seriousness of the allegation if he was prepared to ask McCoy to go on leave to facilitate investigations, the President responded that “McCoy went voluntarily on leave for two weeks, he’s still on leave”. He stated that he was hoping that the police would have concluded their investigations within the two weeks and he expects to see the report in the next few days.
“I have done what I think is a fair process. Mr. McCoy asked to go on leave for two weeks. I said yes. I asked the police that they investigate the matter. They are the ones charged with investigating such matters. They have done the investigation. I haven’t seen the report. I had a verbal report from the Commissioner of Police. Those were the conclusions that they had”, he said, adding that he followed a process and would not have done so if he didn’t think that the allegations were serious.
In this light, the president noted that long before the Commission on the Rights of the Child was put together people were campaigning against McCoy sitting there. “There was a campaign for him not to go on the commission. So had I not thought this was serious, then I wouldn’t have asked for this because I would have thought that it was a continuation of that campaign but I treated it seriously I asked the relevant people to investigate the matter and they did“, Jagdeo said.
He accused sections of the media of “duplicity” naming Stabroek News, Capitol News and Prime News, stating that when the tapes, which allegedly featured the then Commissioner of Police, Winston Felix had been released “the same people who today are saying you can judge whether a person was involved from a recording are the same people who were saying that…you can’t judge a person from a recording”. The three media houses had been saying this and “today they have changed their position”, said Jagdeo.