Findings of Lindo Creek inquiry raise ‘troubling questions’ about role of security forces – Granger

The report of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the murders of eight miners at Lindo Creek in 2008 raises “troubling questions” about the roles of the police and defence forces at the time, according to President David Granger.

He made this disclosure shortly after handing over the instruments of appointment to members of the Police Service Commission on Thursday at State House.

According to Granger, aside from the questionable role of the disciplined services, the report also highlights the reticence of the political administration of the day to provide useful evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into that massacre. At the time of the massacre, the PPP/C held office.  Justice (ret’d) Donald Trotman, who led the CoI, handed over the report to the president last week.

Granger noted that the inability of the police to arrest the outbreak of criminal violence quickly led to the emergence of a death squad and revealed how drug lords had infiltrated the force. These troubles, he added, also exposed a small group of influential officers and the need for the more careful selection of police ranks and improved intelligence gathering.

He assured that the report’s recommendations are being studied and “will be acted upon” in due course. Granger would later inform that the report is being perused “in detail.” He said too that there is a lot of evidence and although there are some brief recommendations “we need to ensure that they are enforceable.”

Granger made it clear that the days of concealing security sector mistakes and misdeeds are over. “The force’s officers will be held accountable for the consequences of their actions and for the instructions they issue to their subordinates,” he said.

One of the main recommendations made by the CoI is that the families of the miners, Cecil Arokium, Dax Arokium, Horace Drakes, Bonny Harry, Lancelot Lee, Compton Speirs, Nigel Torres and Clifton Wong, receive compensation from the state.

Trotman justified this recommendation by stating that the families suffered financially due to the deaths of the men, who were husbands and fathers.

“They [the families] were dependent and now [that] they [the miners] have gone there is no support. Economic and financial support and we feel that compensation should be given…and have so recommended,” Trotman said.

Additionally, the CoI Chairman has recommended that some parts of the investigation be re-opened and while noting that no one has been found culpable, he has recommended that senior security officials during the time of the killings be called upon to explain their conduct during that period. With the reopening of some parts of the investigation, Trotman explained, the commission is hoping that proper measures, which were not previously taken, will be taken to establish the truth of some of the allegations that were made. 

“We have identified some persons who, in their official capacities performing their duties as public officers, should be enquired into so that some explanations be given by them as to their conduct and actions or their non-actions during the material times of 2008 and following,” he explained, adding that these persons include those who were performing the duties of President, Commissioner of Police, Minister of Home Affairs, army Chief of Staff and other relevant officers.

The CoI had previously invited Jagdeo, former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and former Prime Minister Sam Hinds to appear and give evidence but they all declined.

The CoI was established to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the killings of the men and report its findings and recommendations to President Granger. The eight men were mining for diamonds at the location when they met their gruesome deaths, sometime between June 9th and June 10th. After the miners were slaughtered, their bodies and belongings were burnt.

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 his son Dax, his brother Cedric and the other workers.

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