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…Hughes says State took Orin Boston’s fundamental human right to life
….maintains Police Constable must be charged with murder
By Svetlana Marshall
As calls mount for the police rank accused of fatally shooting Dartmouth Businessman Orin Boston to be charged with murder, Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes said Boston’s fundamental human rights were violated, and simply cannot be ignored.
“I think the most fundamental human right anybody can enjoy is the right to life,” Hughes said during his most recent appearance on Politics 101 – a virtual programme hosted by Political Scientist, Dr. David Hinds. He said in the case of Boston, a husband and father of two, all of his fundamental rights, and most importantly – the right to live – were violated by the Guyana Police Force – an arm of the State.
According to the United Nations (UN), “human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status.” The right to life and liberty, freedom of opinion and expression, equality before the law, and the right to fair trial and presumption of innocence are among the human rights identified by the UN. Importantly, the International Human Rights Law, prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment, slavery and forced labour, arbitrary arrest or detention, and arbitrary interference with privacy among other violations.
Boston – a 29-year-old businessman with no criminal record – was fatally shot when the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit breached his home during the wee hours of September 15, 2021 though he was not wanted by the police. A thorough search of his premises following the deadly shooting revealed that there was no prohibited item. To date, many questions regarding the murder of Boston remain unanswered by the Force, among, them why Boston?
Hughes, in his deliberation, said Boston was a good and upright citizen, whose fundamental right to life was snatched from him. Hughes, who is representing Boston’s interest in the case brought against Sherwin Peters – the Police Officer accused of the fatal shooting, pointed out that Boston was never the subject of any police investigation, and therefore was not wanted in connection with any crime when the SWAT Unit invaded his Dartmouth, Essequibo Coast home.
“Mr. Boston wasn’t on the road, he wasn’t in a car, he wasn’t in a hotel, he wasn’t travelling on a boat, he wasn’t travelling in an aircraft, he was in his most secured location, which was his home and within that home, he was in his most private quarters, in his bed, in the most personal of circumstances, lying next to his wife, that is his right,” Hughes explained.
He said without a warrant, the SWAT Unit, comprising three ranks, Peters included, breached Boston’s home at around 4:30hrs on September 15.
The heavily armed SWAT Unit first came into contact with Boston’s 7-year-old daughter, whom they removed from the house. The Unit then went in search of the businessman, and with ease, the three ranks entered his bedroom, and in a flash Boston was shot.
“Mr. Boston is lying in his bed naked next to his wife, and he is shot dead instantly. He urinates himself as he was shot dead,” Hughes recalled, noting that Boston’s right to life and privacy were violated by the State.
Like Boston’s family and many Guyanese, Hughes said there are many pressing questions that ought to be answered.
Based on the initial police reports, the SWAT Unit was executing an anti-crime operation, which commenced at 2:00hrs on September 15 in Region Two. The unit was dispatched from Police Headquarters, Eve Leary days prior.
It was noted that prior to the search at Boston’s home at Dartmouth, two other houses were searched, which led to two persons wanted for murder being arrested.
Hughes said it is important to note, that the unit was sent to arrest clearly identified murder suspects. Boston’s name was not among those listed.
“The SWAT team arrested those suspects in Lima – approximately 20 minutes away from Dartmouth,” he pointed out while noting that sometime between 2:00hrs and 4:30hrs, the head of the Unit must have been given instructions to divert to Boston’s home. The reason – remains unknown.
“We know that they had no warrant, we know that they had no request from the police in Essequibo to go there, so this was some mission, in which the leader of the squad either was party to or was carrying out the instructions of somebody else,” Hughes reasoned.
He submitted that from the time the Unit invaded Boston’s home, they breached the Force’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Further, he submitted that there was no justification for the use of deadly force. Boston was killed with an AR.
From the onset, Boston’s family together with Hughes had called for an independent body to conduct the investigation, but in turning down the request, the Guyana Police Force assured that justice would be served.
On January 14, Peters was charged with the lesser offence of manslaughter – some four months after the fatal shooting – a move that ignited protest actions in Dartmouth by residents, who are demanding that the accused be charged with murder.
On the instructions of Boston’s family, Hughes has written the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, S.C. requesting that Peters be charged with murder.
“We are instructed that no circumstances exist which indicate that Mr. Peters did not intend to kill or cause Mr. Boston grievous bodily injury when he discharged the AR which was in his possession and if he did not possess this intent, it is a matter for a jury to determine,” Hughes said in the letter.
In the letter seen by Village Voice News, Hughes, on behalf of Boston’s family, told the DPP that the witnesses’ statements on the death of Boston have confirmed it was an act of murder.
“We are further instructed that upon a review of the Standard Operating Procedures for the use of deadly force by members of the Guyana Police Force do not disclose any circumstance which justified the discharge of any deadly weapon when they entered the premises of Mr. Orin Boston,” Hughes further stated.
He pointed out too that the instructions issued to the SWAT team on the day of Boston’s death did not include any instructions to attend the premises of the now dead businessman or to seek his arrest.
The Attorney told the DPP that additional evidence indicate Boston was specifically targeted in the exercise conducted on the morning of his death.
“The issue of weight and credibility of the statements of various witnesses is a matter which is in the exclusive purview of a jury,” he added. Against that background, Hughes said he is unaware of any legal basis upon which a charge of manslaughter could have been properly instituted against Peters.
“In the premises we write to request your review of the file with a view to instituting a charge of murder against Sherwin Peters. In the event of your failure to so do our instructions are to commence proceedings to compel you to so do,” he told the DPP.