Trotman bemoans quality of police work in probe of Lindo Creek murders

Justice Donald Trotman yesterday voiced his dissatisfaction with the quality of the criminal investigation conducted by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) into the Lindo Creek murders after an investigator said he was satisfied with the outcome, although he admitted to not doing any legwork himself.

Detective Sergeant Rodwell Sarrabo appeared before the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) yesterday and he related under questioning by Commissioner Trotman, who is leading the inquiry, that he had not visited any of the scenes linked to the Lindo Creek investigation, including Lindo Creek itself, Christmas Falls or Goat Farm.

“All these are important places,” Justice Trotman noted, before enquiring whether Sarrabo did not think they should have been visited before a conclusion could be made on the investigation. Sarrabo accepted that they were indeed relevant to the investigation, but stated that that aspect of the investigation was not handled by the Serious Crimes Investigations Unit, of which he was a part of, but by ranks of the ‘E and F’ Division.

In his report, Sarrabo had concluded that it was the Rondell ‘Fineman’ Rawlins gang that killed eight miners— Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry, Lancelot Lee, Compton Speirs, Nigel Torres and Clifton Wong—at Lindo Creek in June, 2008. Asked by Trotman what evidence he relied on to come to this conclusion, Sarrabo cited the DNA report, post-mortem reports, ballistics reports and statements compiled.

Justice (Rtd) Donald Trotman

This prompted Trotman to ask what material evidence was examined, with reference being made to guns, spent shells, clothing and the like, to which Sarrabo indicated that that had not been done by him.

The detective had said that his opinion was formed based on statements from Dwane Williams, a gang member captured by police in the Ituni area on June 16th, 2008, Joint Services ranks, and civilians. He admitted that his conclusion in the matter was heavily dependent on the testimony of Williams, who allegedly told officers that his gang had murdered the eight miners.

Sarrabo indicated that no one was charged for the killings, although the report had concluded that the Fineman gang was responsible for the deaths. He noted that the file was sent for legal advice, but said he could not recall what was recommended. He added that at the time the report was compiled, in 2012, only Williams, the alleged eyewitness, had been alive.

“You did all this work, you compiled this report very painstakingly and I would think carefully, you came to your conclusion and then you submitted it and there was this one member of the gang who you concluded did these things and that person was not charged! Are you satisfied with that?” Justice Trotman asked.

“I am satisfied with it, that he was not charged,” Sarrabo stated, after the question was posed again.

“I am not satisfied with you, Sarrabo,” Trotman asserted.

Later, asked by Guyana Defence Force attorney Roysdale Forde why he claimed to be satisfied that Williams was not charged, Sarrabo said that his satisfaction was from knowing who was responsible for committing the acts.

There has been evidence that there was an internal inquiry conducted by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) into the culpability of its members in the killings, with Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best testifying yesterday that those statements were handed over to the Guyana Police Force (GPF) afterward.

Sarrabo, however, said that he had not received statements from any inquiry held by the GDF.

Trotman asked that Best try to retrieve those statements, as the commission had come into difficulty doing so, noting that it was “puzzling” that those statements seem to have “eluded” the commission although they have been requested.

He added that he did not want to feel that there was a deliberate attempt being made to conceal them.

Major Andy Pompey, who appeared before the CoI on May 7th, had been the head of the GDF team established to investigate the allegations. Pompey indicated that the investigations consisted of interviewing members of the GDF who were deployed to the Kwakwani area during the time in question, between June 6th and June 21st.

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