The Lindo Creek Commission of Inquiry (CoI) will begin public hearings tomorrow at the Waterloo Street-based Department of Public Service.
According to a notice sent out by the CoI’s Secretary/Legal Counsel Keisha Chase, hearings will also be heard from February 19 to 22. All hearings will commence at 9 am and end at 4pm. No information was given as to the number of persons scheduled to testify on the first day.
The CoI which was established two weeks ago will inquire into the circumstances surrounding the killings of Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry, Lancelot Lee, Compton Speirs, Nigel Torres and Clifton Berry Wong on or about 21st day of June, 2008 and to report its findings and recommendations to President David Granger.
With regards to subsequent hearings the Commission will be accepting original and follow-up statements from interested parties during the life of the Commission and will be setting subsequent hearings, to facilitate the attendance of witnesses.
It was stressed that all persons wishing to testify are asked to submit statements of their intended testimony in writing, to the Commission prior to their appearing before the Commission. Persons who wish to testify but may need assistance in composing their witness statements will be assisted by the Commission’s Secretariat and are invited to contact the Secretariat at the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-2292.
A release from the Secretariat stated that a number of interviews have been done with `Persons of interest’ and the commission has been working closely with family members of the deceased persons, who have come forward.
It was noted that Trotman, a retired judge brings to the CoI a vast range of relevant experience in the international legal arena at the highest levels. He headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Grenada ,working closely with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and held several other key positions including at Amnesty International – British Lawyers’- Coordinator for Campaign against Torture and for African Affairs.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that the PPP/C will not be a participant in the inquiry, arguing that the inquiry was clearly rooted in politics.
“The government immediately went ahead. It cherry picked Lindo Creek out of the whole continuum… They handpicked Lindo Creek and the reason for doing so because they had accused… there was a false claim that the security forces killed these people so the first move of this government is to try the security forces of our country who had had over 30 of their members killed…The first act of this government is to put the security forces on trial in this Lindo Creek [inquiry] because of that false charge,” he had said.
The Lindo Creek killings as well as two other massacres occurred during the PPP/C’s tenure in office.
Burnt human bones and skulls had been discovered on June 21st, 2008 by Leonard Arokium, owner of the Lindo Creek mining camp. DNA tests done in Jamaica several years later confirmed that the remains had belonged to the miners, inclusive of Arokium’s son and his brother. The men were mining for diamonds at the location when they met their gruesome deaths. After the miners were slaughtered, their bodies and belongings were burnt. Although a large find had been reported at the camp, there was no trace of any diamonds when the remains were found.
The Lindo Creek CoI is the first of what the APNU+AFC Government has said would be a series of inquiries into the hundreds of killings which occurred during a crime wave that began in 2002.