Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday said neither he nor the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is afraid of the return of convicted drug lord Roger Khan to Guyana.
“We are not afraid of Roger Khan’s release because we had nothing to do with Roger Khan and if he is released and did crime in Guyana, he must face the consequences too. We’re not afraid of that,” Jagdeo said.
Khan, who is currently serving a 15 year jail sentence in the United States, is expected back in Guyana in early July.
Responding to questions during his weekly press conference yesterday, Jagdeo said that if any charge could be proven against Khan, the state has the right and the authority to go after him.
He was adamant that there is no link between the convict and his former PPP/C government even though Khan, through newspaper advertisements, had suggested otherwise. Jagdeo maintained that the issue of the ads ought not to be one-sided as there were instances where some spoke of a link between the then opposition PNCR to criminal elements.
Khan, before he was held in neighbouring Suriname in 2006 and handed over to US authorities, had stated in a public advertisement that he had been fighting crime at the behest of the then Jagdeo-led government. “During the crime spree in 2002, I worked closely with the crime-fighting sections of the Guyana Police Force and provided them with assistance and information at my own expense. My participation was instrumental in curbing crime during this period,” the ad, published in May, 2006, had stated.
Asked why he nor his security forces did not take action when the ads were published, Jagdeo said that every citizen could put out an ad. Later, he said that a government has access to the “entire force of the state” and he noted that during the time that Khan spoke of there were well trained soldiers and police at its disposal. “We don’t need 20 or 100 or 25 phantoms when we had men who were authorised to carry weapons and empowered by our laws and Constitution to fight bandits,” he stressed.
He said that there was no need for any phantom gang under a PPP/C government. “You think I was bothered with Roger Khan and a small group of others? We had at our disposals the entire arsenals… Why do you need a small group of people?” he questioned.
Asked whether he felt the security forces failed, he said the effectiveness of the security forces was curtailed by the political environment. “If every day you have a big group like the PNC, every time you go into a community, they getting people to come out and protest… these are bandits walking around with heavy weaponry in a village …and as soon as the police catches one of them, guess who shows up to defend them? Someone from the PNC… If anybody is responsible for the killings of many of those people, it was PNC and many of its leaders. Why do you think President Granger does not want a Commission of Inquiry into this matter? When he said in his first speech to the National Assembly ‘I want to investigate the troubled period,’ why do you think he jump only to Lindo Creek? Because I think he was dissuaded from investigating this period because by now a lot of those same PNC people… the top officials… that many of them would now be facing court action,” he said.
Jagdeo dismissed accusations that his then Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj and former Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy had connections to Khan or members of his gang. In the case of Ramsammy, Jagdeo said that the allegation that the former minister authorised the importation of spy equipment that was later seized from Khan “has never been proven with official testimony.”
During the period he represented Khan, attorney Robert Simels had identified Ramsammy in emails to representatives of the Smyth Myers Communications company as the government minister who assisted in Khan being trained in the operation of spy equipment. Ramsammy has denied links to Khan.
Allegations by a self-confessed death squad informant, George Bacchus, led to a presidential inquiry that resulted in Gajraj’s ouster during Jagdeo’s tenure as president.
The inquiry, however, cleared Gajraj of any involvement in the activities although it raised concern about his associations. It was believed that the death squad was formed in the wake of the 2002 jail break and was responsible for the murders of suspected criminals and others.
Khan was jailed after he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges as well as gun-running.