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…Argentine expert leaves tomorrow without crucial crime scene files
… told provision of such will be ‘discussed’
By Lisa Hamilton
World-renowned Forensic Anthropology expert, Dr. Luis Fondebrider, is in Guyana to assist in the solving of the West Coast Berbice (WCB) teen murders but his efforts to receive necessary documents from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to complete his analysis have thus far proven futile.
Dr. Fondebrider is the Director of the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF). He travelled to the country on December 12, 2020 and will be leaving tomorrow, December 16. Earlier on Tuesday, Dr. Fondebrider was able to meet with officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Commissioner of Police (ag.), Nigel Hoppie and the Crime Chief, Wendell Blanhum.
Dr. Fondebrider has presented the Crime Chief with a list outlining some 20 documents he would need to complete his work but the meeting turned out to be only a formality. The forensic expert said that the response to his request of the documents has been less than favourable and does not meet the urgency he had hoped for.
“I need documents. I need reports from the crime scene, from the autopsy, the complimentary analysis and I don’t have it…they said ‘well, we’ll discuss’. They didn’t give me a date or any kind of clear information about this data I’m requesting,” Dr. Fondebrider told the media following a public presentation he made at the Brickdam Cathedral.
“I told them I am a scientist, I am not about politics,” the expert stated. “I told them very clearly what I need. I need documents of the work at the crime scene, I need to see pictures, maps, the screenshots, to which labs they sent the samples taken from the body and from the scene. I need to see the autopsy report, how long [ago] they took the autopsy, the condition of the mortuary, only with that information I can really analyse and give an opinion and advise.”
On Sunday, Dr. Fondebrider visited the crime scenes where the bodies of Isaiah Henry, Joel Henry and Haresh Singh were found. He also spoke with the families of the boys. Should he be provided with the documents, Dr. Fondebrider said that he could produce his assessment and recommendations in three weeks but without them, the expert said that he could only give a general assessment.
Also speaking to the media, President of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), Mike McCormack said that he too witnessed the tight-handedness of the GPF in providing the necessary information to the forensic expert.
“Dr. Fondebrider has not had an opportunity to meet the police or the police investigators. The meeting this morning was the Ministry of Home Affairs meeting and he had a team of advisers there. To that extent, you could say yes, the Police Commissioner and the Crime Chief shook hands with Dr. Fondebrider but there’s not been any technical or professional exchange with the police,” McCormack said.
Asked what he thought about this, he continued: “It’s initially disappointing. One would have hoped that the central support that the police initially required [would have been accepted]. This was not just a GHRA initiative, the first press release was published by the Police Commissioner…[saying] that they would welcome this initiative. So, it’s disappointing that it’s not moving forward in the way we’d hoped.”
The initial plan of the GHRA was to bring in a forensic team from the EAAF to Guyana but the State refused to fund the initiative. The GHRA later compromised by commencing a fundraiser requesting pledges from the public and has received some USD$14,000 in pledges thus far. It was proposed by the Association that the Government would contribute 50 percent of the needed funds but the Government has not responded favourably to this request.
“We’ve not actually physically collected money because of the complication. If the Government was not prepared to cooperate [with the EAAF] then we’d have to give it all back,” McCormack explained. “So, we spent about US$3,000 in bringing Dr. Luis Fondebrider and we hoped from this visit that we could generate more momentum behind this request that the Government engage.”
Dr. Fondebrider said that, in football terms, the “the ball is in the field of the State”. He hopes that the necessary documents are provided in a timely fashion as the EAAF remains willing to assist with the investigation that appears to be important to the people of Guyana