GDF criticised for excluding camp owner from internal investigation

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was heavily criticised yesterday for excluding the evidence of Lindo Creek’s mining camp owner, Leonard Arokium from an internal investigation, conducted to determine whether GDF ranks were involved in the June 21, 2008 massacre.

Upon resumption of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Monday, the committee heard from Major Andy Pompey who headed the unit which was appointed to carry out the inquiry among members of the GDF.

Back in 2008, Pompey was a Captain and head of the Intelligence Corps. He told the COI today that the five-member unit which he headed, interviewed the 24-member Joint Services Unit that was deployed to the area at the time. However, the commission thought it was rather strange that the army did not interview a man who was making a serious allegation.

Arokium had told officials that information he received from eyewitnesses showed that it was the Joint Services that was responsible for the death of his son, brother and six other miners in his employ.

The Joint Services Unit was combing the area and had, days before, been involved in a “shootout” with the “Fineman gang”. They reportedly killed at least two members of the gang.

Commission Chairman, Justice Donald Trotman questioned the mode of operation of the GDF’s investigating team, enquiring from Pompey, the reason for not questioning Arokium.

“Here is Mr. Arokium making these allegations. You were asked to investigate the circumstances and you didn’t think at least, if no one else, you should have interviewed Mr. Arokuim who was making these allegations?”

Pompey said he was working with a directive at the time. According to him, he was restricted to interviewing only the ranks identified.

“The person interviewed by the team were the persons who the directive I received were to be interviewed and those persons were the only ones who came and were interviewed,” he explained.

“Intelligence was that wanted criminal Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins along with his gang, was in the area.

However, as part of his interrogation of ranks, Pompey did not call upon Arokium.

Among the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the GDF Unit, was the investigation of “allegations of murder being made against ranks of the Joint Services by Mr. Leonard Arokium and other family members of the deceased”. (DPI)


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