Brigadier (rtd) Edward Collins was yesterday sworn in as the sole commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances under which a foreign aircraft, which was discovered near the village of Yupukari in Region Nine two weeks ago, landed in this country.
The oath was administered by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the presence of members of the media at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The retired brigadier was called upon by President David Granger to lead the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which would investigate, examine, advise and report on all the circumstances regarding the foreign aircraft which was discovered on September 13, in the Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu region.
Collins, in an invited comment to the media after the swearing-in ceremony, said the importance of the CoI cannot be overemphasized. His terms of reference include him making recommendations based on the investigation and advising the President on the way forward.
He further said that as commissioner, his powers are likened to a judge, in accordance with the Constitution. Collins said he can serve subpoenas to witnesses, but noted there would be difficulty in acquiring the witnesses who live in the region where the aircraft was found because of Guyana’s geography.
As previously reported, a statement from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) had said that a joint patrol from the GDF and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) was sent to the area and the discovery of a Cessna aircraft was made around 09:50 hrs on September 13.
GDF Chief of Staff Brigadier Mark Phillips when contacted at the time of the discovery, told Stabroek News investigators were checking everything and based on checks, reports will be submitted and decisions will be made. He had also confirmed that no drugs were found on the aircraft.
In past years, illegal aircraft have been found on airstrips in various parts of the country.