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By Lisa Hamilton
…so say relatives of Henry cousins
A world-renowned expert forensic team has offered to assist the Government of Guyana in solving the murders of the three West Coast Berbice teens but almost two months have gone by and the administration has failed to take up the offer for unknown reasons.
At a press conference on Tuesday with the family of slain cousins, Isaiah and Joel Henry, Joel’s brother, Colwyn Henry said that he had spoken with the President directly and asked him about the offer made by the team but the President skirted the question to speak about other matters.
“We had a meeting with the President two Fridays ago and we raised the topic with him and he said that he reached out to CARICOM because CARICOM is who reached out to them. I asked he, we asked he. He didn’t give we a positive answer but he said they reached out to CARICOM because CARICOM is who reached out to them,” Colwyn said.
On the other hand, attorney representing the families of the Henry boys, Nigel Hughes said that it is clear that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Regional Security System (RSS) –which was hired by the Government– do not have the capacity to solve the crimes. In fact, he noted that it was after the announcement of the said press conference that the GPF put out a notice offering a $3,000,000 reward for anyone with information on the murders of the Henry boys and Haresh Singh.
Mere days prior, President Irfaan Ali, when pressed by reporters for an update had told them that the RSS was pleased with the work of the GPF. He gave the impression that the investigation was headed in a positive direction.
“I have not seen a copy of it [the RSS report] but I have been briefed on the content of it and what I’ve been told is that the RSS did some work, they recommended some additional work to be done. But, in total, they were satisfied with the work the local police have been doing,” President Ali said.
However, in Hughes’ assessment: “If you brought five experts from the Caribbean to assist in an investigation and five experts could only conclude that the Guyana Police Force has the capacity to solve this crime and two months after the crime has been committed the Guyana Police Force is offering a reward because they have no evidence, I think that speaks both of the capacity of the Guyana Police Force and the capacity of the RSS.”
In comparison to the $3M being offered by the GPF, the Government would only have to pay little over that sum to secure the services of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF). Detailing the likely costs, Hughes stated that the team has a profession fee of USD$20,000; would require an additional $1,000 to cover the airline costs for the equipment they would bring; and would require coverage of travel, accommodation and food. Altogether, the attorney averages that it would cost the Government only GY$7M.
Hughes said that he will continue to press and advocate that it is critical that the Argentine experts are facilitated to the country. “These murders have left an open gaping wound in the Guyanese society. It’s not healing and it’s not likely to be healed unless this is solved,” he said.
“In the case of Mr. Haresh Singh, Mr. Haresh Singh was murdered 150 yards behind his house. I cannot believe that a nation in 2020, in Guyana, in a community that has perhaps less than 5,000 people, we can’t solve a murder which is committed by a cutlass or a chop. If we can’t solve this, what’s going to happen with the slightly more complex cases where the perpetrators are a little better equipped?”
Only recently, the DNA results taken from murdered West Coast Berbice teens returned to Guyana with no leads. Added to this, at the press conference, Hughes said that he has every reason to suspect that the trousers found on Joel Henry – which were not the ones he left home with and were not his size — was not submitted by the GPF for DNA testing.
Families of the murdered cousins have also brought additional evidence to the police such as what was suspected to be blood on the branch of a tree and a handprint of blood on the drain in a location where they suspect a scuffle took place. There is no word on whether the Police has yet acted on these discoveries.
As it relates to the reward offered by the Police, Hughes said that, in his experience, when a reward is offered a lot of people come forward with less than reliable information for the sake of receiving the sum. Nonetheless, any person or persons with information on the murder of the three teens may contact the GPF on the following telephone numbers: 225-6411, 226-6978, 225-8196, 226-1326, 225-2227, 225-3650, 225-7625, 227-1149, 232-0291, 232-0213, 330-2222, 911, or the nearest Police Station.