Cops face departmental charges for ‘neglect’ in Leonora station death

-probe finds no evidence of criminal conduct

‘My husband was brutalised and killed by the police and something should be done to stop this from happening to others. We don’t want more innocent persons to end up losing their lives’ – widow Soorsattie Chandrapaul

 

Although six police ranks face departmental charges for neglect, none will face criminal charges in the death of Asif Rahim Khatoon, who died after being beaten at the Leonora Police Station, after no evidence was found linking any of them to the fatal injuries, the Guyana Police Force said yesterday.

Khatoon, of Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara, was reportedly beaten by police on November 21, 2014, while in custody after a report of domestic violence was made against him. He died on November 27 upon his release from hospital.

In a statement yesterday, police said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has advised against criminal charges, while departmental charges were recommended against two sergeants, a corporal, a lance corporal and two constables would be disciplined.

Asif Rahim Khatoon
Asif Rahim Khatoon

The decision was based on the completion of investigations by the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) into the circumstances surrounding Khatoon’s death.

According to the police, the wife of the deceased, Soorsattie Chandrapaul, failed to attend an identification parade although she in her statement to the police had related hearing her husband saying that he had been struck by a police rank, who was in the tray of the vehicle on his way to the Leonora Police Station. “…but this evidence is hearsay and cannot be relied upon,” the force noted.

Chandrapaul had further stated that before they had entered the Enquiries Office at the Leonora Police Station, a short stocky policeman had kicked her husband under his chin.

“Due to her failure to attend the identification parade the identity of the ranks who allegedly assaulted her husband remains unknown. Therefore there is no evidence linking any particular police rank to the injuries inflicted on the deceased,” police added.

According to the statement, evidence collected during the investigations had revealed that another prisoner had allegedly assaulted Khatoon while he was in custody. The prisoner had been released from custody prior to the launching of the investigations and efforts to locate him have so far been unsuccessful. Police have been advised that he be charged with manslaughter.

Meanwhile, even though Chandrapaul is disappointed that the officers would not be facing criminal charges, she is still satisfied some actions are being taken. She and her four children are still grieving a lot for Khatoon and his death is hard for them to accept. “There is no one to support us now,” she lamented.

She said the police have to take more interest when dealing with prisoners. “They need to be trained how to handle prisoners, even if they misbehave. Our relatives are in the hands of the police and they should not be beaten to death,” she noted. “My husband was brutalised and killed by the police and something should be done to stop this from happening to others. We don’t want more innocent persons to end up losing their lives,” she added.

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