Though on leave, Commissioner of Police Seelall Persaud passed the instruction for the main suspect in the alleged assassination plot against President David Granger to be released on the night he was detained, police witnesses yesterday testified.
They made this disclosure while testifying before the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the alleged plot and the police’s handling of the probe, which is being led by retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe.
According to the statements given by witnesses thus far during the public hearings at the Department of Public Service, on March 29 Andrif Gillard made a report to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that he was offered $7 million by businessman Nizam Khan to assassinate President Granger.
It was also reported by witnesses that after Nizam was taken into custody that afternoon, following a search of his premises, his brother, Imran Khan showed up at the CID, where he created a ruckus. The evidence is also that both men were released that same night.
Inspector Prem Narine, who took over the reins of the investigation on the ground on the evening of March 29, testified yesterday that he had received the instruction to release the men directly from the Commissioner of Police.
Narine had indicated that all three men had been taken into custody because there were allegations made amongst them while there that they had threatened each other.
Further, according to the testimony of Constable Jermaine Laundry, it was on this instruction that bail was granted to Nizam and Gillard, and that the Khans were able to repossess their firearms, which, in Imran’s case, had only minutes before been lodged.
“I can’t recall the exact time I received a call from the Commissioner of Police, Mr Seelall Persaud. He asked me what was happening in relation to the matter. I told him there was Imran Khan at the station behaving in a certain manner. I told him that we have his brother, Nizam Khan, in custody in relation to the allegation…,” Narine stated.
“…He then instructed that I send Mr Imran Khan on his own recognisance and place the other persons on bail. As a result of that and the fact that Mr Persaud was on leave at the time, I called Mr [Mitchell] Caesar and I told him what the instructions were. He then told me that I should carry out those instructions if the commissioner said so,” Narine stated.
Narine said that had he not been advised to release them, the men would have remained in custody because of the nature of the allegations. Asked if he believed the instructions were inappropriate given the fact that Persaud was on leave at the time, he said it was something he had considered and that was why he informed Caesar.
‘The Chief called’
Caesar, when he testified yesterday, corroborated Narine’s story. He, like Narine, related that had it been of his own accord, the men would have remained in custody, given the nature of the allegations.
“Sometime after 7.30/8, I received a call from Inspector Narine informing me that he received instructions to put Mr Khan on bail…the exact words was, ‘The Chief called me and asked me, instructed me to put Khan on bail.’ At that stage, I told him, ‘Hold on let me speak to Mr Blanhum.’ He says, ‘No, it’s not Mr Blanhum.’ He says, ‘the Commissioner of Police, Mr Persaud.’ I said, ‘Well, okay, if Mr Persaud so instructs, then there isn’t anything I can do at the time,’ Caesar related.
Asked by Slowe if he did not find it strange that the Commissioner of Police would intervene in the matter, he said no, given his rank, before adding that he did not consider at the time that he was on leave.
Also testifying was Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, who said he had not known about Nizam Khan’s release until the next morning, when he was briefed and informed that the commissioner had passed the instruction.
When Caesar was asked why he had not informed Blanhum, who is his superior, he explained that he assumed Blanhum would have already been aware, as he believed Narine was in contact with the Crime Chief.
Relationship with police
Meanwhile, it was also revealed yesterday that at least one half of the Khan duo, Imran Khan, has ties within the police force.
Narine said he has known Imran Khan for a number of years as he has seen him around at police functions. The same was stated by Caesar.
Asked if he has ever seen him interacting with anyone, Narine noted that he has seen Imran interact with both senior and junior officers, although he could not speak on the level of interaction.
“…Not generally, specifically. You would have had what? The general commanders? Senior officers?” Slowe prodded.
“Maybe the Commissioner,” Narine chimed in.
Commissioner of Operations Clifton Hicken, who also testified, stated that he knew of Imran Khan because he has a workshop on the East Bank Demerara, and would help out with the repair of police vehicles from time to time.
Questioned on whether Khan has a good relationship with the police, Hicken said that it would depend on how the Commissioner chose to define the word “relationship.”
“Relationship meaning that you could call him to assist in repairs of vehicles and all of that and he not gon’ charge you and all kind of thing, right?” Slowe said.
“Well, could be,” Hicken replied.