GDF probing allegation by PPP/C MP of torture in Cessna probe

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) is investigating allegations by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C)  MP Nigel Dharamlall that a resident of Yupukari, Region 9, Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo was tortured during its probe of an unauthorised Cessna plane that was found in area, Chief of Staff of the army, Brigadier Mark Phillips says.

While preliminary reports into the alleged incident have proven to be false, Phillips is urging residents, especially in the hinterland to make a report to their nearest police station if they believe that they have been abused by any of his officers.

“We did not authorize any interrogation or beating of anyone. However, now that we had that report we already started to investigate if that occurred…from the preliminary (report), no, we don’t have any such report,” Phillips told Stabroek News yesterday.

He added, “It is not our modus operandi to be beating anybody. I would venture further to say that if any citizen of Yupukari or anywhere feels that their lives are threatened or they have been mishandled by members of the Disciplined Services let them go to the nearest police station and make a report, but in the meantime we are conducting a probe.

Phillips said that he became aware of the allegations through a post by Dharamlall and does not know where the PPP/C MP got the information. Nonetheless, he immediately ordered that an investigation be done “so that we can get down to this whole allegation.”

On Dharamlall’s Facebook post on Monday  he said, “I just received unconfirmed reports from my sources in the #Rupununi that the Police and soldiers investigating the mystery plane in #Yupukari are terrorising my #Amerindian brothers and sisters there. They have taken to beating and burning the feet of residents of Yupukari, Fly Hill and Quatata. One of my brothers … escaped and is now in Normandia seeking medical attention…

“Further to the alleged report of an Amerindian man from Fly Hill being beaten by purported investigators of the mystery plane in the Yupukari area, please be informed that his wife has since related that her husband was indeed beaten and went to Brazil for treatment. Apparently that man lives next to the area where the plane was found and he was beaten to provide information on the location of the airstrip,” he added yesterday but did not say who the alleged victim spoke to.

Phillips is baffled as he said that up to press time yesterday not only was the alleged victim not found but no one in the village knows of such an incident. “We did not find any such report,” he said.

“We will continue to investigate and there is no reason why we would want to harm the people (of the village) because those are the same people that brought it to our attention. The people have been cooperating with us all along the line. So I don’t see any reason why we would want to harm them. However, when a report like this comes to us, both myself, the Commissioner of Police and everyone will continue to investigate”, he said.

In a statement last Wednesday, the GDF said that it received information that an illegal aircraft was found at the Yupukari Airstrip. During Wednesday, the statement said a joint patrol from the GDF and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) was sent to the area and the discovery was made around 9:50hrs.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon later said that the United States registration number N767Z that was marked on the plane was revealed to be bogus since another aircraft with that number is currently being operated in the US.

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