City refers disciplining of officers in juvenile rape probe to Local Gov’t Commission

Royston King

City Hall has turned to the Local Government Commission (LGC) to discipline officers who were found to be delinquent in the probe into the alleged rape of a minor.

Town Clerk Royston King told a press conference yesterday that in line with legal advice received, he has forwarded the report from Legal Affairs and Security Committee to the LGC for action.

The report was forwarded on December 5th and on December 11th, 2017, the LGC chair Mortimer Mingo responded noting that the commission is currently establishing its secretariat and will address the matter “soonest.”

According to Section 118 of the Municipal and District Council’s Act, the power to appoint or discipline officers of the council who are paid more than $18,000 annually rests with the LGC who may delegate same to the council. The committee’s report had made note of this provision recommending that this section of the Act be amended so that some workers are dealt with by the Commission and others at the level of the Council.

The report, which was presented to the council in November, has recommended a two-week suspension for the Chief Constable and the lead investigator in the probe of the alleged rape of the minor by a member of the constabulary.

It was recommended that Chief Constable Andrew Foo and Assistant Superintendent Virjanand Gafur, who were responsible for investigating the matter, be suspended for fourteen days.

The grounds for Foo’s suspension was reportedly because of “several alarming shortcomings,” which included not reporting the matter to the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Child Care and Protection Agency and the Ministry of Social Protection; failing to maintain the protective custody of the victim, whom he knew to be a juvenile, when he sent him to the Town Clerk’s office; and failing to take immediate and decisive action in accordance with the standard operating procedures.

Gafur, who was the senior officer responsible for the investigation, failed to provide proper supervision, and as a result, six statements were omitted from persons who were on duty during the time the alleged sexual assault took place.

Also playing a hand in the investigations was Officer Eusi Dover, who it was recommended receive training in the field, as there were “huge gaps” in the information that was presented to the committee. It was recommended that this training also be provided to other officers where needed.

King himself, it was recommended, should be strongly cautioned for neglecting to have the matter reported to the GPF and for exercising poor judgment by accepting an invitation by the Chief Constable to have the juvenile visit his office. It was reported that the juvenile was interrogated in King’s office, in the presence of other council officers.

Meanwhile, both the Lance Corporal who is alleged to have committed the crime and the witness who reported it remain on Administrative leave until after the LGC has addressed the matter, according to King.

He further noted that though the criminal aspect of the matter has been referred to the Guyana Police Force, no charges have been laid against anyone three months later.

Commander of A Division Marlon Chapman has confirmed that the file on the matter, which had been sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), was returned in late December with a request for additional investigations.

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