Three serving members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) including two whose names were published in the local newspapers were yesterday interviewed by the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the 2008 Lindo Creek killings as was scheduled and are likely to give testimony during the public hearings, according to the commission’s attorney Patrice Henry.
Contacted yesterday afternoon, Henry said that Colonel Lloyd Souvenir, Captain Sheldon Howell and Omar Khan who are all serving GDF ranks as well as a retired rank appeared and were interviewed. “They will be required to give a written statement”, he said before adding that “public hearing for them is highly likely”.
Advertisements which appeared in the daily newspapers during the past week, asked that Ayodele Woolford, former lieutenant of the Guyana Defence Force; Dwand Cambridge, former Assistant Superintendent of the Guyana Police Force; Souvenir; Howell; Major Fitzroy Ward; Private Taylor; Private Quailo and Philbert Bobb or anyone knowing their whereabouts make urgent contact with the commission. No reason was stated but Henry told this newspaper on Saturday that they are wanted for interviews to determine if they have information pertinent to the investigation.
The army issued a statement on Monday stating that some of the ranks being sought were available and were scheduled to give a “preliminary interview” on Wednesday (yesterday) after an agreement was reached.
In a press release, the GDF said that it received correspondence from the CoI, requesting that a number of ranks be made available to appear before the Commission.
“The Force has since responded, indicating the availability of the requested ranks, as some are no longer in its employ. Further, an agreement has been reached for those available ranks to report to the Commission of Inquiry for a preliminary interview on Wed 18-04-18 at 1130 hours”, the release said.
The CoI is inquiring 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. The findings and recommendations are to be reported to President David Granger on completion of the inquiry, which is being conducted by former judge Donald Trotman.
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 suffered 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.
Stabroek News in its Tuesday edition had erroneously said that Captain Howell had headed the army’s contingent in the Lindo Creek area around the time that the killing occurred when in fact it was Woolford. This newspaper was previously told that the commission is of the view that it is critical that Woolford be interviewed.
The commission is hoping to meet with the other persons whose names are listed and urged that they or anyone who knows of their whereabouts make contact with the commission at telephone number 227-2292 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.