Lindo massacre inquiry to now start public hearings on March 1st

The Commission of Inquiry (CoI) set up to investigate the 2008 Lindo Creek killings will commence public hearings on Thursday.

The new start date for the hearings was announced via a notice released to the media yesterday by the Commission’s Public Relations Officer Melanie Morris.

The notice said the hearings will begin at 10 am at the CoI Secretariat, located at the Department of Public Service on Waterloo Street, Georgetown.

The CoI was established earlier this month to 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.

The notice said that the lone Commissioner Justice (Rtd) Donald Trotman will engage stakeholders on Thursday.

It added that the Com-mission 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.”

All persons wishing to testify and give information are being asked to submit statements of their intended testimony, letters and memoranda to the Commission prior to their appearing before the Commission. Where necessary, persons will be assisted by the Commission’s Secretariat and are invited to contact the Secretariat at the email address and/or telephone number gy or 227-2292.

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 will be a series of inquiries into the hundreds of killings which occurred during a crime wave that began in 2002 under the former PPP/C government.

The public hearings were originally set to begin on February 14th but did not as the Commission was then uncertain of the appearance of scheduled witnesses.

One hour after the planned 9 o’ clock start time, Justice Trotman informed the media and others gathered at the Department of the Public Service that there would be no hearings until further notice as “certain prerequisite arrangements” had not been put in place.

While he explained that those “prerequisites” were mostly internal and that he wished not to announce them at that stage, he stated that one of the factors included witness appearances and he related that some of the witnesses were unable to attend, while others may have arrived late.

Justice Trotman, who is the sole commissioner, noted that that day’s hearing was meant to facilitate testimonies from the relatives of those who died in the massacre.

State Minister Joseph Harmon’s recently said that a number of persons have given evidence before the commission in camera. Stabroek News contacted Morris for information in this regard, including how many such persons have testified but up to press time last evening this information was not forthcoming.

According to a release issued by the Secretariat on February 13th, 2018, a number of interviews were done with `Persons of interest’ and the Commission has been working closely with family members of the deceased persons, who have come forward.

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