Alleged plot to kill president ‘inherently incredible’

– Crime Chief tells CoI

Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum yesterday called the allegations of the assassination plot against President David Granger “inherently incredible.”

Blanhum, under cross-examination by attorney Ian Chang, who is appearing for the

Guyana Police Force in the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) set up to examine the plot and the police’s handling of the investigation, was responding to the question of how he viewed the allegations made by Andrif Gillard.

“I would say with the greatest amount of respect, it is my humble opinion that the allegation made by Gillard against Khan is inherently incredible,” Blanhum stated.

Inspector Mitchell Caesar testified yesterday that the police have been seeking the advice of the police legal advisor, retired judge Claudette Singh, since the allegation was brought to the force’s attention on March 29 and Blanhum had related that it was based on her advice that confrontations were held with key witnesses.

Blanhum yesterday said that his interpretation of the legal advisor’s advice that the evidence is tenuous, indicates that it is “flimsy” and “has no bearing.”

Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe, who is leading the CoI, said that while he is willing to accept that the evidence may be “flimsy,” he would not accept that it has no bearing.

“Mr Chang, based on what he has said, what came before the commission, five days after the allegation was made, that was already determined… so I’m not sure anything would have happened between then and now to change that… five days after a conclusion was drawn that it was malicious even though later on we go on to say that, the investigation should continue,” Slowe commented.

During Blanhum’s testimony, he recalled the runaround Gillard had given to ranks during the course of the investigation, including failing to show up for scheduled confrontations between those who had come forward as witnesses. He also said that Gillard had made continuous attempts to “shift” the investigation away from its focus toward personal conflict.

‘No plot’

In Blanhum’s testimony, he had indicated that he was made aware that Nizam Khan, who was named by Gillard as the person who offered him money to kill the President, was placed on bail on the same day he was held. He stated that he learned of the man’s release the next day during his briefing and he was informed that it was the Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud, though on leave, who passed the instruction for the man’s release.

Asked by Slowe whether he believed that the release of Khan just a few hours after his detainment was not unusual, given the nature of the allegation, Blanhum said that he did not as they had made significant progress on the case that night.

“Did you find it strange or unusual …a report so serious that it had to be taken over by the major crime investigations unit, you did not find it strange that in 24 hours this man was sent on bail?” Slowe enquired.

Blanhum stated that he had not for several reasons, including the fact that significant progress had been made on the case, that the standing orders cater for bail, that the police are obligated to grant bail at the earliest opportunity after an arrest is made and that the standing orders clearly outline which offences do not attract bail.

He then went on to list those offences for which bail is not granted, identifying murder, treason, misprision of treason and treason felony. He stated that the offence Nizam Khan was arrested for did not fall within those categories.

“The plot to assassinate a president, you don’t consider as treasonous?” Slowe enquired.

“We can define plot…,” Blanhum retorted.

“…I just want to get this straight… you’re suggesting to me that a plot or a plan to assassinate the Head of State, the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, doesn’t fall under that category?” Slowe said.

“Your definition and my definition are very different and I’m working with the offence that was established that was given to us by the police legal advisor… if you check the statement diary, you will see that the offence he was booked for is incitement to commit murder. The allegation, legally, was one of incitement or solicitation to commit murder,” Blanhum maintained, while asserting that as Crime Chief he is obligated to rely on facts and not be driven by his feelings or opinions.

Under cross-examination by Chang, Blanhum stated that there has never been an attempt made on the life of the President since he took office and that based on the legal advice he received, there had been no plot.

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