A witness on Monday denied telling police that he was a supporter of Nizam Khan, the man accused of offering to pay for the assassination of President David Granger, and he denounced a claim that he was seen joining a car with Khan last week as a lie.
Leon Baldeo issued the denials when he faced the Commission of Inquiry investigating the plot and the police’s handling of the probe.
Baldeo, a friend of Andrif Gillard, the man who claimed Khan offered him money to kill Granger, was one of six witnesses who testified on Monday at a public hearing at the Department of the Public Service on Waterloo Street.
Baldeo was asked extensively by retired Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Slowe, who is leading the inquiry, about how he had left the commission’s office last week after he had been summoned.
Baldeo related that he had taken a bus both to and from the commission, but this was disputed by Slowe, who said that Baldeo was “creased” after he left.
“Are you familiar with motor vehicle #PMM 7762? …Would it surprise you if evidence is produced that when you left here Wednesday afternoon, you joined PMM 7762, you did not go in any minibus? And furthermore, would it surprise you to know that PMM 7762 is registered and owned by Nizam Khan? Would that surprise you?” Slowe questioned.
Baldeo said that he did not know anything about such and that the statement was a lie.
He had also denied telling police in his statement that he had gone to support Khan, although he later admitted that he did not bother to reread the entire statement, just the part listing his personal details.
Speaking on the event in question, Baldeo told the commission that on March 29, he had gone over to Gillard’s to get his hair cut, when Gillard began sharing his personal woes, and his desire to get back at his neighbour, Khan, for alleged wrongdoings committed against him.
He said that it was then that Gillard asked if he would make a statement to police claiming he had been present when Khan allegedly offered him money to be a part of an assassination plot to murder the president. According to Baldeo, he had tried to reason with Gillard to have the two work out their problems.
The man related that while he was friends with Gillard, he only knows Khan informally.
Baldeo said that he was in a pool shop one day when he heard that Gillard and Khan had been locked up and so the next day he proceeded to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to give a statement.
This, he said, was because he did “not want any problems” as he has had prior brushes with the law, having been convicted before, and did not know what Gillard would have told the police.
When attorney Ian Chang SC, who is representing the police, asked Baldeo during cross-examination if he had been worried that Andrif would falsely implicate him, Baldeo said yes. Pressing, Chang asked if it was that Gillard has the tendency to make up stories, to which Baldeo responded, “He got he ways.”
Slowe had questioned why it was Gillard would go to Baldeo three days before he actually made the report to the police. Inspector Mitchell Caesar, while giving evidence, had said that he understood this to be Gillard’s “planning phase,” as he was looking for support in his allegations.
Caesar had spearheaded the investigation, after an instruction from Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum.
Caesar then went on to relate that just last week a woman had made contact with him claiming that prior to Gillard making his report to the police, he had contacted her and informed her of the plan. He related that she then reportedly questioned if Khan had not been the one to help him start his business, and chastised him, which allegedly resulted in problems between the two.
No information of such an occurrence was provided to the Commission, however.
Corporal Heranjan Deonarine, one of the three officers that had been a part of the initial leg of the investigation, also testified on Monday.
Like his colleagues Komal Pitamber and Jermaine Laundry, Deonarine’s version of events on that day also differed.
While Pitamber said that he had been the one to approach Khan in his yard and inform him of the allegation, and Laundry had stated that all three the officers had done so, Deonarine said that it was him and Pitamber that approached Khan.
He stated that they searched both the house and yard which took about 30 to 45 minutes, and then he was the one to drive Khan and Pitamber back to CID in Khan’s car. Asked why they had not used the force vehicle, which it was reported seats five, Deonarine said it was because Khan had not wanted to leave his car behind.
The corporal could not recall many details about the search, and presented information that contradicted Pitamber’s account, such as the number of bedrooms and where Khan’s wife had been at the time of the search (Pitamber said she was with them during the search, while Deonarine said she was in the kitchen).
He related that he had written a statement in relation to the matter though none was presented to the commission. This issue was addressed by Slowe, who noted that several of the statements made reference to in the testimonies on Monday were not a part of the police file.