Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Act with dispatch. Stabroek News Editorial.

Act with dispatch
Stabroek News Editorial. Monday 7 July 2008

Considering how much time has elapsed since the discovery of the remains at Camp Lindo and the disarranging of the site, it is vital that the government move speedily to secure skilled pathologists and forensic investigators.

The rejection by the US government of a request for assistance is hardly surprising. While there would have undoubtedly been human resource constraints and concerns about the integrity of the site, the state of relations between the two countries was hardly conducive to a positive decision. Why the government delayed disclosing the negative response by the US is puzzling and unsettling. The US formally communicated its decision to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. Further, it was disclosed by its Charge d’Affaires Karen Williams on Thursday morning to MTV on the sidelines of the handing over of the public health laboratory to the Health Ministry. A report to this effect was carried by MTV on Thursday night. Despite this and numerous queries from the media about what was happening, the rejection was not disclosed by the Ministry of Home Affairs until Friday evening at which point it said that it was seeking assistance within Caricom and from institutions in the region and further afield.

Why given the exigencies of the situation wasn’t there immediate disclosure by the government and the announcement of an alternative on Wednesday?

Why didn’t the ministry identify specifically which Caricom countries and institutions had been petitioned for assistance?

Why was there no consideration of an offer that was mobilized by the law firm of Hughes, Fields and Stoby. More so since the AFC Leader Mr Trotman had said that President Jagdeo had expressed exasperation at the time of their meeting that there had not yet been a response from the US and asked the AFC whether it could assist in the search for experts.

The mindset thus far of the government and its defenders has been to push the line that the atrocity at Lindo Creek was committed by elements of the Fineman gang and that it was not possible that the Joint Services could have been involved in the attack and that this shouldn’t even be raised by the media or the public as a possibility. Responsible media have a right and obligation to consider all possibilities.

The owner of the mining camp, Mr Leonard Arokium, is convinced that the Joint Services is responsible for the Camp Lindo killings. He has no evidence but the absence of evidence at this point in time does not mean that his theory is incorrect and unfounded. Indeed, while Mr Arokium has been set in his views he has affirmed that on the night that he returned to Georgetown after making the ghastly discovery he was visited by PM Hinds, then performing the functions of President, Home Affairs Minister, Mr Rohee and Commissioner of Police, Mr Greene who were eager to make the case that the atrocity was committed by Fineman and his gang. How they could have exuded this level of certitude given all that is known has not been established. In yesterday’s edition of Kaieteur News, Commisisoner Greene is reported as saying that there is an eyewitness who will attest to the fact that the Fineman gang was involved. This can certainly be a big break in the case and the testimony of the witness will have to be carefully considered and his/her protection guaranteed.

The doubts about the Fineman theory have been fuelled in large measure by the Joint Services. It must be remembered that they themselves had repeatedly conveyed to the public that they were masters of the trails and roads in the area and that Fineman and his gang were on the run and “crumbling”. If this were the case how could he and his gang be responsible for Lindo Creek? The only way that one could easily accept that Fineman and his gang had done it was if the killings had occurred before the June 6th Christmas Falls shoot-out between the police and the gang. That we know is not the case. The later events at Goat Farm and on the Ituni Trail have also raised red flags about the consistency of the narrative from the Joint Services.

It is these circumstances that have created the urgency for immediate and decisive action by the government to secure the services of forensic experts. Three weeks later there isn’t much to show for the efforts and valuable time has been lost while the camp area remains under siege from the elements.

Trying to piece together what happened at Camp Lindo and when is not only important for bringing the guilty to justice but also for shoring up the credibility of the law and order fight. Questions have begun to pile up for the government on the security front. Numerous unanswered issues remain about Lusignan and Bartica even as the authorities grapple with Camp Lindo. Added to that, there are piercing questions emanating from a court in New York about the activities here of drug accused businessman Roger Khan and the exact role that a gang he was close to played in relation to dozens of killings.

More importantly, it is still to be determined whether he conducted his self-professed anti-crime operations with any blessings, official or otherwise, of those in charge here for example with the sensitive spy equipment which he was able to import and employ perhaps even after he had won his court case on gun charges.

If that wasn’t enough, law and order is still to come to grips with worrying crimes such as the attacks on the Ministry of Culture and the National Cultural Centre and gruesome murders like the beheading of businessman Farouk Kalamadeen and the gunning down of Marcyn King.

And though he has been accused of involvement in three massacres in less than six months, the Joint Services has not convincingly spoken of any sightings of Fineman Rawlins or why he has not yet been caught. Much of what has been said about him has been taken on faith but even this can be easily shaken by incidents such as the texting in his name via a computer at Kaieteur News.

It is this faith testing that has to be moved away from in relation to Lindo Creek and the government has to act with dispatch.

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