Government has indicated that if local investigations into the narcotics trade reveal any link to self-confessed druglord Shaheed Roger Khan, then it will take up the United States’ offer to access copies of his testimony during his trial in the US court, and if possible Khan himself.
President David Granger
Fielding questions on his weekly television programme “The Public Interest”, which aired on Friday evening, President David Granger pointed out that investigations are currently being conducted into the recent allegations against the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and there are plans in the future to probe extra-judicial killings that occurred from the year 2000 and onward, noting that if there are connections to the convicted drug baron, then his Administration will seek to engage him.
“Wherever those leads take us, we will follow… We need to have a lawful and orderly society and whoever is accused of committing murders will have to be punished… I’m not accusing anybody but where ever those leads take us, we will follow to make sure justice is done and Guyanese can live in a country where they can be assured of being safe,” the Head of State remarked.
Khan had made claims of working to curb an out of control crime situation at the time by using extra judicial methods of execution and had even implicated several Ministers under the former regime in his undertakings. He is currently serving a 15-year sentence in the US after he pleaded guilty to arms trafficking, drug trafficking, conspiracy and witness tampering.
United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Cassandra Jackson, in her affidavit to the US Court about Khan’s involvement in the drug trade in Guyana, indicted how powerful he was.
“Khan was ultimately able to control the cocaine industry in Guyana, in large part, because he was backed by a paramilitary squad that would murder, threaten, and intimidate others at Khan’s directive. Khan’s enforcers committed violent acts and murders on Khan’s orders that were directly in furtherance of Khan’s drug trafficking conspiracy,” she had stated.
As Opposition Leader and even after his appointment into the presidency, Granger has long called for a Commission of Inquiry into extra-judicial killings in Guyana. In August 2015, while addressing a gathering at a forum on the State of African Guyanese at the Critchlow Labour College, President Granger said “I will ensure that all those who were killed have their deaths investigated”.
He also reiterated his intention to see a motion passed in the National Assembly for the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry which will probe a large number of killings during the period 2000 and 2008. Granger had first drafted the motion in 2012 while he was Opposition Leader. It seeks to investigate, among others, the killing of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and the massacres at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek.
“When you have Ministers of the Government bringing in computers so you can track down peoples mobile phones; when you have young men being shot in the back of their heads with their hands tied; when you have so many deaths which have not been investigated; when you have a Minister of Government who has been assassinated and you don’t even have an inquest, something stinks and we are going to investigate those deaths,” the President had declared.
Meanwhile, at a press conference at the US Embassy back in October 2015, Ambassador Perry Holloway had told local reporters, when asked, that there is a possibility for the Guyana Government to access Khan’s testimony.
He noted that there is a process to follow but one which has high requirements. Nevertheless, the US Diplomat said that his country would cooperate if the necessary procedures are followed.
“If the rules and regulations of the agreement are done with Guyana, or we have signed up under the UN or OAS to allow for such a thing, we would be sure to be disposed to cooperating within the framework of the rule of law,” the US Ambassador had stated. Minister of State and Secretary of the Defence Board Joseph Harmon had subsequently welcomed the offer.
“We would have an interest in what came out of the trial because it points to some levels of collusion with the past Administration and the criminal elements; that is where the evidence is. If it is there, we would be happy to have it, because they have always said, ‘where is the evidence? Where is it?’ Well, that is where it is, and if that is where it is, we will go and get it and let the Guyanese people know who was doing what at that time,” Harmon had remarked.