Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The curious employment of former members of the Guyana Police Force

The curious employment of former members of the Guyana Police Force

Posted By Stabroek staff On June 16, 2009 @ 5:01 am In Editorial | 3 Comments

The recent arraignment of ex-policeman Lloyd Roberts and the issuance of a wanted bulletin for another ex-policeman− Sean Belfield, called “Backup” − both in connection with the murder of the father and son whose bodies were found in the Pomeroon River in March are the latest links in a long chain of allegations of felonies involving serving and former policemen.

Public alarm arose over six years ago when the extraordinary relationship existing between the ex-policeman Axel Williams and then Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj was uncovered. The subsequent Presidential Commission of Inquiry into allegations that the Minister had been engaged in “activities which involved the extra-judicial killing of persons” in 2005 did not receive credible evidence to enable a finding of ministerial involvement in the killings but concluded that Williams was actively involved in certain under-cover activities on Gajraj’s behalf and the “close association” which developed between the two was “unhealthy.”

Axel Williams was killed while performing those curious activities and another ex-policeman − the talkative Mark Thomas known as “Kerzorkee” − met a bizarre demise after he, along with yet another ex-policeman Sean Hinds and civilian Ashton King, were charged with the murder of Shafeek Bacchus in January 2004. The victim was the brother of the informer George Bacchus who first cast light on the criminal underworld of the ‘phantom’ death squads.

Belfield has made headline news before. While still a serving member of the Guyana Police Force in December 2002, he was arrested, along with self-confessed narco-trafficker Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan and others at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara with electronic equipment weapons and ammunition. Astonishingly, the case against the group was dismissed by magistrate Jerrick Stephney. Lloyd Roberts was also a newsmaker back in June 2006 when the Suriname police arrested him together with Belfield and yet other ex-policemen Paul Rodrigues − again with Roger Khan − and seized 213 kg of cocaine from them.

Rodrigues himself had been in the news earlier when, together with two civilians, he had been arrested in September 2004 by a police search party at a Bel Air business place which seized a quantity of firearms; millions of dollars; female police uniforms; communication equipment, a computer and seven motor vehicles. To the amazement of some, the case against the group was dismissed by magistrate Adrian Thompson.

Following a robbery of miners in the Mazaruni in which a former member of the disbanded Target Special Squad’ was implicated, then Commissioner of Police Winston Felix in December 2005 issued an extraordinary bulletin informing the public that nine ex-policemen − Eustace Abraham (also known as “Robo Cop”); Sean Belfield; Otis Grant; Collis Lindon; Seon Mayers; Eion Smith (also known as “Gangsta”); Paul Rodrigues; Myrven Vaughn; and Sheldon Williams − all of whom had been dismissed or interdicted for various acts of misconduct, were no longer empowered to perform duties as members of the Police Force.

Numerous allegations have been made of the “close association” between ex-policemen and murderous gangsters. The evidence suggests that some ex-policemen had been employed to use their enforcement talents to commit serious crimes, including unlawful killing. The abolition of the Special Squad, which seemed to have degenerated into a training school for some of these suspects, was not sufficient. There must be an investigation into the numerous serious allegations against them.

Policemen who have displayed transgressive conduct while in the Force ought not to be released onto unsuspecting society without surveillance. The recent arrests show that it is delusional to think that rogue cops can be reformed by retirement.
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