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Saturday, March 25, 2006
Felix sees no need to resign -still not acknowledging voice on tape is his
Stabroek News
Winston Felix

Still not acknowledging that the voice on a controversial tape recording is his, Police Commissioner Winston Felix yesterday said he saw no need to resign as he had done nothing wrong.

He said he was not accepting the voice as his because with technology a voice could be easily doctored and distorted.

The tape allegedly of Felix and PNCR Vice-Chairman Basil Williams has set the two in a vortex of controversy because of some of the statements in the expletive-laden conversation which discussed the murderous attack on Agricola/Eccles in which eight people were killed and the 33 AK-47s missing from the army among other topical issues.

In an exclusive interview yesterday with Stabroek News, the commissioner said he is questioning the authenticity of the tape which was anonymously dropped off on Monday at media houses and other organisations.

Acknowledging that if the voice was his, a serious security breach would have occurred as his phone would have been bugged, the commissioner said he would not address that issue since he is not accepting that the voice is his. He asked that the maker of the tape come forward and prove that the voice on the tape is indeed his.

When he was first contacted by this newspaper on Monday, the commissioner had said he had not heard the tape and that he had no desire to hear it. Now that he has heard it since it was played on a number of occasions on NTN Channel 69, the commissioner said he would not say the voice is his.

On Monday he had said that he should only be made to answer things he would have done publicly. Williams had also said the same thing and he also had not admitted the voice was his as he kept referring to the "alleged" conversation. He had said that he is not sure the tape is of one conversation.

A detailed study of the transcript of the conversation by this newspaper strongly suggests that the tape was made by stringing together more than one conversation.

And Felix yesterday clarified the statement which he made in Stabroek News' article on Tuesday, March 21 in which he questioned whether it was the government of Guyana or an agent of the government which would have the ability to eavesdrop on a private conversation and tape it.

"The offending part which seems to convey the impression that [I] imputed illegal action to the Government of Guyana is incorrect."

The commissioner said he never intended the question, "`whether it is the Government of Guyana or an agent of the government' to be construed to mean that he was referring in anyway to the president, prime minister or any of the members of the Cabinet."

"Instead [my] position is that only a legitimate law enforcement agency, which is an arm of the government, arm of the state, could carry out such functions and to do so legitimately must be supported by an order of the court."

"Any person, any organisation, or body who does so without the order of the court would be acting illegally. [I] expect that this statement would clarify the statement made the first day and clear up any misunderstanding," he said.

Since its release, the tape has created waves countrywide with some holding the view that it is a private conversation and as such should not be used to judge either speaker while others say that privacy isn't an issue as matters of public interest had been discussed in the conversation which also contained racial remarks. There have been calls from some sections of the society for the commissioner to resign. It is not an issue the commissioner wanted to discuss but he said he has done nothing wrong and as such queried why he should resign.

On Monday he had reiterated that if it was indeed his voice he was not making a public statement nor was the conversation taped in a rum shop and as such he was not going to answer for any conversations he might have had in private.

The PPP in a statement earlier this week among other things said that it would be monitoring the situation and intends to engage other stakeholders on the possible ramifications of the development.

The party had also noted that phone tapping is not new in the country as only recently former Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj also had his privacy violated and the PNCR did not question the means by which the information was obtained but used it to vilify the minister in the worst possible way.

However, in the case of Gajraj there was no transcript of any conversation but a record of phone calls he received from alleged `hit-man' Axel Williams. Williams had been fingered as one of the men responsible for the deaths of many persons during a killing spree.

"There is no doubt that the conversation raised issues of professionalism that is very necessary in a democratic society. It has also raised serious issues of the security of the state and should certainly be enquired into," the party release said without going into further details.

And the PNCR at a press conference, while questioning the serious security breach occasioned by the alleged tapping of the Top Cop's phone had said "the illgotten material is now being released, not for any noble purpose but with the sole aim of destroying the credibility of the commissioner of police. This, it is hoped, will distract the Guyana Police Force from its efforts to dismantle organised crime in our country."

In her statement, Homes Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira said "the Government of Guyana is deeply disturbed about the circulation and broadcast of a recorded conversation between the Commissioner of Police, Mr Winston Felix and PNCR Member of Parliament, Mr Basil Williams.

"This development has implications for national security… a more detailed statement will be issued on the matter".

The conversation between the two persons included a discussion on the Agricola killings and the response time of the police to the crime scene. It also addressed the private sector's view on the response time and a call from a minister after the shooting had started. The conversation also mentioned in passing the Ronald Waddell killing, the Shaka Blair shooting in Buxton, the upcoming elections and what would happen if the deadline could not be met, as well as the alleged staged kidnapping of Sean Belfield's daughter.

The conversation opened with a discussion of the settlement of a libel matter and referred to a meeting to be held with someone described as No.1. The distribution of the tape comes amid a robust police/army operation to recover highpowered weapons stolen from army headquarters. During this exercise several prominent businesses were searched.