All suspects in Lindo Creek massacre now dead, Blanhum says

– but probe still open as cops asked to do ‘specifics’

Though all of the persons fingered in the 2008 Lindo Creek massacre are now deceased, the investigation is still ongoing as police were advised to do some “specifics”, Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, said yesterday.

Nine years later, there are still lots of unanswered questions surrounding the incident and the family members of those killed are still battling to come to grips with what had occurred.

Burnt human bones and skulls had been discovered on June 21, 2008 by Leonard Arokium, owner of the Lindo Creek mining camp. DNA tests done in Jamaica several years later confirmed that the remains had belonged to his son Dax Arokium, his brother Cedric and workers: Compton Speirs, Horace Drakes, Clifton Wong, Lancelot Lee, Bonny Harry and Nigel Torres. The eight men were mining for diamonds at the location when they met their gruesome deaths sometime between June 9 and June 10. After the miners were slaughtered their bodies and belongings were burnt. They had reportedly had a ‘wash down’ (large find) yet there were no traces of any diamonds.

Blanhum told Stabroek News that based on the last advice obtained from the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the police were required to conduct further investigations.

He said it was pointed out in the advice that the eyewitness would have identified Rondell `Fine man’ Rawlins and his gang members as being the individuals responsible for the killings.

It is believed that the eyewitness was Dwane Williams called ‘Small Fren’. He was the main witness in both the Lusignan and Bartica massacre trials.

Williams was a former co-accused in the January 26, 2008 Lusignan massacre, in which 11 persons, including five children were killed. However, the Director of Public Prose-cutions (DPP) had withdrawn the charges against him.

He had also been arrested in connection with the Bartica massacre but was never charged and had told the court that he was 15 years old when he was recruited by “Fine Man,” whom he knew from growing up in Buxton.

In 2014, shortly after the Lusignan massacre trial ended Attorney Nigel Hughes had accused the DPP of making a plea-bargain deal with Williams, who had admitted to participating in that incident as well as those at Bartica and Lindo Creek, in which 33 people were killed in total, allowing him to go free without a single charge.

Police from the onset had maintained that it was Rawlins and his gang members who were res-ponsible for Lindo Creek massacre although Leonard Arokium, who lost both his son and brother, had accused members of the joint services of killing the men–a charge the police and the army have vehemently denied.

Asked by Stabroek News yesterday whether police are still seeking anyone in connection with this particular incident, Blanhum said that the individuals identified by the eyewitness were all deceased.

Rawlins was killed on August 28, 2008 during an almost seven-hour-long police operation, which started at Timehri. The infamous Jermaine `Skinny’ Charles was also killed.

And though he said that the police had received advice to do some “specifics,” Blanhum declined to reveal what those were.

Inquiry needed

Jackie Arokium, the mother of Dax Arokium expressed her disappointment that no inquiry had been held into the circumstances surrounding the killings. She stressed that unless the circumstances are known there is no closure for relatives.

“To think that nine years after this tragedy occurred and with the promise that the new administration would seek further investigation into the truth about the death of these miners we are still without answers,” she said.

One year ago she had called specifically for a Commission of Inquiry, while stating that with the change in government she expected the matter to be reopened and a full-scale investigation launched to not only definitively determine if the Rawlins or the joint services had any role in the heinous crime, but also to find the true reason behind the killings.

The grieving mother was critical of government’s approach to this particular matter. “Truly reveals the deceitful and unethical nature of those in office. We [the family members] have lost any hope due to the complacency of the current administration to bring clarity to the situation,” she said.

In June 2013, the then opposition APNU, which is now part of the coalition government, had called on then home affairs minister Clement Rohee, the DPP and the Criminal Investigations Department to redouble their efforts to ensure that those responsible for the murders were brought to justice without any further delays.

Jackie Arokium stated, “All we can do as a family is pray for healing of our wounds and hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

She said she is hesitant to write to or meet government officials or police on this matter as she feared “retaliation against my family members still living in Guyana.” According to her, her intention now is to merely remind all of the “ongoing corruption within the government that has prevented the truth from coming forward.”

She expressed the view that both the past and current administration have failed the families.

”The only reason for any government or police not to properly investigate such a high profile case it’s because there is something to hide…,” she stressed.

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