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As persons continue to review the Ministry of Home Affairs’ statement that the Regional Security System (RSS) found no evidence of corrupt practice or any attempt to cover up Ricardo Fagundes aka Paper Short murder case, the credibility of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and RSS is attracting scrutiny. A former Detective Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police Service, Serious and Organised Crime Command (United Kingdom) is said to have conducted the inquiry but he or she was not named in the release.
Fagundes was killed in a hail of bullets in front of Palm Court nightclub, Georgetown, on March 21, 2021. Detective Sergeant Dion Bascom has implicated a Superintendent in covering up the crime and a city businessman in the killing. Both have denied the allegations and the businessman has since filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against the sergeant.
Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Paul Slowe is calling for the entire Report to be released, as he questioned even with the information provided in the ministry’s statement, how could an investigation be concluded without interviewing Bascom who made the compliant about the cover-up in the murder investigation.
Slowe’s initial reaction is that he does not know what is contained in the Report, and given the credibility of the GPF, he is not sure if what is written in the release is what is said in the Report.
Further, questioning the information released by the ministry, the retired ACP said it mirrors the tactic used by former United States (U.S) Attorney General, William Barr, who, in 2019, before the Robert S. Mueller III Report was released, presented his application of what he considered to be the summary of the report, in attempt to influence public opinion without the benefit of the report.
In 2017, Mueller, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was recruited as Special Counsel to investigate how Russia operatives sought to influence the U.S 2016 presidential race, and whether President Donald Trump or persons associated with his campaign, knowingly or unknowingly, colluded with Russia. Americans had accused Barr of seeking to mislead the public about the actual findings in the inquiry.
In the ministry’s release what stands out and apart is the unnamed investigator found “The bribery allegations made by Sergeant Bascom against the GPF, namely, that Detective Supt. Caesar and Inspector Stephens in an attempt to cover up the unlawful killing/ homicide of Fagundes were hearsay having no provenance.”
At the most basic Bascom should have been invited by the investigator for questioning before the report was finalised. This was not done. The detective, in a statement asked, “How can the RSS say that the bribery allegations is hear-say without interviewing me to find out where I get that information from and whether the person that told me had proof of same?”
It was the detective’s revelation, via a social media post, that influenced the government’s decision to recruit the RSS to do the investigation.
Bascom’s attorney, Nigel Hughes had engaged skepticism from the outset about the professionalism of the RSS. Appearing weeks ago on the programme, ‘Conversation with Rickford Burke,’ Hughes said the RSS is missing one vowel between the R and S.
Almost one month to the request made by Hughes for witness protection for his client, pursuant to Section 20 of the Protected Disclosures Act (2018), President Irfaan Ali has not provided the protection Also, the president is not unaware of Bascom’s allegation because he was let into the story via a WhatsApp message on April 14, 2022.
WhatsApp message to President Ali et al
Trade unionist Lincoln Lewis, in an invited comment, said, whilst he awaits the Report to make an informed pronouncement, much is however not expected based on the fact the principal complainant was not interviewed, and the strength of the RSS is tracking hurricanes and ensuring the safety of prisoners and citizens in the hurricane zones. He too calls on the government to release the report soonest.
The RSS was “created out of a need for a collective response to security threats, which were impacting on the stability of the region in the late 70’s and 80’s.” Its members are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Criminologist Mark Benschop, who is also host of the ‘Straight Up’ programme, in conversation with Village Voice said, the RSS has to be mindful of the impression, based on the ministry’s release and not questioning Bascom, that the visit to Guyana is not seen as being more concentrated on hanging out with ranks of the Force than doing serious investigative work.
Benschop said there should now be a probe to investigate the investigator and find out what he did whilst he was in Guyana, who he investigated, and what angle he took. “We also need an international investigation to look into the murder of Fagundes because the Police and RSS are compromised or incompetent. What a shame!” he said.