Police Corporal Jermaine Laundry was yesterday closely questioned about why he omitted reference to a key statement from a witness taken just two days before he first testified before the Commission of Inquiry into the alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger.
The statement in question was one from Luanna Walker who alleged that the accuser in the matter, Andriff Gillard had planned to frame Nizam Khan, the person who was accused of offering money for the assassination of the President.
When the CoI into the alleged plot reconvened yesterday, Laundry was one of two witnesses called before Commissioner, Paul Slowe and team to give evidence. Walker’s statement was formally presented to the CoI on August 2nd when it was read by Laundry after being introduced by counsel for the Guyana Police Force, Ian Chang SC.
At the beginning of his questioning yesterday, the Commission’s attorney, James Bond asked Laundry whether he had gotten the chance to divulge all important information pertaining to the plot to the CoI when he was called to give evidence on the 21st of July. Laundry replied that he did get the chance to do so. “Were you at the end of your evidence further asked by the commission whether there was anything else you wished to add to your already given evidence?” Bond asked. “Yes sir”, Laundry replied. Bond later asked with a follow up question if he had anything else to add at that stage and Laundry replied “no”.
Laundry later told the commission that he could not recall omitting any evidence while he was giving testimony on July 19th. Bond however, asked if he had indicated to the commission that he had taken the statement from Walker.
“Do you consider the evidence or the statement of Luanna Walker to be important?” Bond then questioned, “Yes sir” Laundry replied. Bond later noted that the corporal during his second time before the CoI, read the statement he took from Walker. The attorney then asked if he had any reason for not disclosing on July 21 that he had taken a statement from Walker on July 19. Laundry said that he did not remember to mention the statement during his evidence on July 21.
Bond then said “You do recall that this is just two days (prior) to you coming to the witness box?’”, to which Laundry answered “yes sir’’.
“And you forgot within two days to mention of taking this young woman’s statement?” Bond quipped. The attorney added that the police legal advisor had recommended that all statements taken by the police must be handed over to the commission “…Are you aware of those instructions…?” he asked. “I’m not aware of that” Laundry answered Bond.
Laundry told the commission that when he was finishing taking the statement from Walker, he gave it to Assistant Superintendent (Mitchel) Caesar on the night of July 19. Laundry explaining how he came into contact with Walker said, that on the day in question he was on duty at the Criminal Investigation Department, Eve Leary, when he saw the woman who was at the time speaking to Caesar.
“Mr. Caesar call me and told me to interview her and take a statement from her”, Laundry said. Laundry was later asked by Bond to recall all the names of persons who he had taken statements from regarding the assassination plot but he was unable to recall any of the names. Laundry said that he has been taking statements from different persons since March 29.
Bond asked Laundry if he agreed that all the statements he took discredited Gillard’s story.
“Would you agree that all the statements you took discredit Gillard… didn’t you find it strange that you were asked to take statements from only those persons?” Bond asked “I agree that I only took statements from those persons…I don’t find it strange to be doing so”, Laundry said.
“Did you question your superiors as to why they are only giving you the persons who are discrediting Andriff’s story?’’ Bond asked. “No I didn’t question them”, Laundry said while shaking his head.
Dates and times
Bond put it to Laundry that there were several pertinent pieces of information missing from Walker’s statement which he found hard to believe that as an officer taking a statement from a witness he did not ask.
The attorney said that Walker’s statement was devoid of dates and times as to when and where Gillard had spoken to her about his alleged plans to frame Nizam Khan. “You asked her of the days and times?” Bond asked, “Yes sir but she said that she could not have recalled the dates or times”, Laundry answered. “Shouldn’t you then record the answers … or put I can’t recall a date in the statement as you were recording?” the attorney asked. “Yes sir it should have been reordered”, Laundry replied.
Bond went on to argue his point that Laundry’s questions and the answers to those questions from Walker should have been recorded by the corporal. The attorney said that apart from dates and times being left out from the statements, the name of Gillard’s wife was also omitted. He asked Laundry if he did not find that “strange” to which Laundry replied “No I didn’t find that strange”.
Bond then asked Laundry if he knew if Walker’s son and Gillard had an issue. Laundry told the attorney that he was not aware of any such issue.
Bond then asked Laundry if had asked Walker why she was coming forward with such information so long after news got out of the plot.
“Did you ask her why are you here now, who sent you? Those questions?” Bond asked.
“Yes I did ask her why she decided to come now… she said that she thought the matter was finished and she consulted with some attorney and the attorney told her that she must come to the police…” Laundry said.