The wife of Asif Rahim Khatoon who died after a beating while in custody at the Leonora Police Station has expressed shock that a prisoner who was handcuffed to him is to be charged and not the policemen he had implicated prior to his death.
“How a prisoner could beat me husband so bad with just one hand…They [the police] beat me husband and left me and meh chirren to punish…Justice is supposed to be served,” a stricken Soorsattie ‘Lilly’ Chandrapaul, said in between sobs yesterday.
Stabroek News was made to understand that a file from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with “certain legal advice” was sent to police since January 13. The advice, based on what this newspaper was told, was to charge the civilian with manslaughter. However, the charge is yet to be instituted as the police are unable to locate the man. Efforts yesterday to contact Crime Chief Leslie James for a comment were futile.
Khatoon was arrested on November 21 last after a domestic squabble with his wife. He died on November 27 from multiple injuries which included a broken jaw a hole in his throat.
Stabroek News made contact with Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Justice Cecil Kennard, who, after a review of the file, recommended that only the civilian be charged as there was no evidence to implicate the policemen. That information was contained in the file which was reviewed by DPP before it was returned to the police.
Justice Kennard told Stabroek News that the wife refused to attend an identification parade to point out the ranks who had beaten her husband. But Chanderpaul, during the interview with Stabroek News, strongly denied this saying that on that day she was unwell. She questioned why she had to go when her husband had told a number of police officers that the five ranks who arrested him had inflicted the blows.
Justice Kennard said that because there was no positive identification of any ranks, no charge could have been laid. However, he said there was “clear cut evidence” against the prisoner who was handcuffed to Khatoon while he was in custody. He said that the prisoner assaulted the now dead man in the present of three civilians and a policewoman. Justice Kennard told Stabroek News that it was in this regard that he recommended a charge against the prisoner who had been detained for uttering forged US currency.
“It is unfortunate that the wife did not attend the parade. We cannot speculate…” he stressed.
Meanwhile a sobbing Chanderpaul said that the entire situation has left her upset and disappointed. Asked whether she agreed with a manslaughter charge for the civilian, she responded “I can’t say because it just got me sick. I am upset because my husband said is police beat him.”
The woman recalled that five ranks had gone to their home to arrest her husband, but she could not identify them by name as the bulletproof vests they were wearing obscured their name tags. She said if she saw them she might be able to identify them.
The woman said it was impossible for a prisoner to beat her husband that badly and with only one hand. She said Khatoon had a fractured skull, a broken jaw, some of his teeth were knocked out and he had a hole in his throat. “Is plenty blows he get. Is more than one person had to do that,” she said adding that if such a fight had occurred in the police station, someone would have heard something. She questioned where the police were at that time, if it did indeed happened that way, and why they allowed the prisoner to beat her husband to that extent.
Meanwhile, she expressed certainty that nothing will come out of the story. She pointed out too that months have passed and the matter is still to come to finality.