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Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Corbin wants private criminal charges against Roger Khan

Leader of the main opposition PNCR, Robert Corbin is calling on all those persons who lost loved ones at the hands of a death squad to come forward as they mount a legal team to file private criminal charges against businessman Roger Khan who has acknowledged that he helped fight crime during the escapee-led rampage in 2002-3

A source close to Khan, who has been indicted in the US for conspiring to import cocaine into that country, has disclosed that Khan employed members of the then Police Target Special Squad (TSS) and armed ex-convicts who worked as informants for him. It is believed that it was this gang of men which carried out murders of young men some of whom were suspected to be criminals.

Speaking at a public rally in Linden on Sunday, Corbin said when George Bacchus had disclosed that a death squad was responsible for the slaying of countless young men during 2003-4 President Bharrat Jagdeo was reluctant to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate it. Bacchus had alleged among other things that the death squad targeted persons perceived to be involved in criminal activities as well as ex-convicts. Bacchus himself admitted that he had worked for the squad as an informant but he later broke away. He started to make certain revelations when his brother, cattle farmer, Shafeek Bacchus was gunned down not too far from his Princes Street residence. George Bacchus himself was killed a few months later. A Presidential inquiry was later set up but it cleared Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj of any involvement in a death squad.

In his address to the gathering of around 800 people in Linden, Corbin said every day he opened the newspapers he is confronted with the image of the 'real' president of Guyana 'Roger Khan'. According to the opposition leader, Khan has since said that he was responsible for curbing crime during the crime wave in 2002-3 and that he worked closely with the TSS and other branches of the police force. "He said that and so I want all those mothers and wives of those people who have been killed to come forward, it is time we get the facts." "We have to file private criminal actions against him (Khan)," Corbin declared, adding that the embattled businessman has admitted that he was responsible for putting together the gang.

"It is time all of those mothers and wives who lost loved ones come together and we have to mount a proper legal team to prosecute him in the courts". Corbin said citizens should not wait until the US tries Khan, but added that he could be prosecuted right here.

Corbin said that for the businessman to think that while he is on a charge for drugs he can say he is the 'saviour' of the people of Guyana was a slap in the face of Guyanese.

Sources close to Khan told Stabroek News last week that a network of ex-convicts and members of the TSS was what the businessman used to combat crime and assist the police force during the escapee-led violence in 2002-3.

The source who had asked not to be named said that Khan never got involved in actual operations and does not have a private 'army' as some may think.

Rather, the source said, he has his own bodyguards and a network of armed informants (the phantom squad) made up of mainly ex-convicts and ex-policemen.

The source made these disclosures when asked by this newspaper to clarify Khan's claim that he had worked closely with the crime-fighting section of the Guyana Police Force during the crime spree in 2002 and provided them with assistance and information at his own expense.

Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon has denied that the security services ever engaged Khan to help it fight crime, although the embattled businessman has said that he is perceived by persons in the USA, the police force, the army and the PNCR as someone who has the will and capacity to fight crime and to protect the people of Guyana against a coup d'etat. Khan has been indicted by a US Grand Jury for conspiring to import cocaine into that country between January 2001 and March 2006. Since the indictment was unsealed he has been making several statements about meetings he said he had with US officials and other law enforcement officers locally.

His statements, according to observers, seem to be aimed at mobilising public support and avoiding being handed over to the US authorities.

According to the source close to Khan the businessman used his own intelligence and resources. "He worked directly with the Target Squad and provided its members with information on criminals and leads and they used that information and got to some of the criminals," the source said. "Khan never picked up a gun as far as I know and hunted down any criminal, his role was basically to show the way," the source said. Khan, Sean Belfield, who was then a serving member of the TSS and Haroon Yahya were intercepted at Good Hope by an army patrol in December 2002. The vehicle they were travelling in had a cache of high-powered weapons and electronic equipment capable of intercepting telephone calls. The trio was charged and went before the courts, but the case was later dismissed. Asked about the so-called "Phantom Squad", the source said, the ex-convict network, which Khan employed as his informants, could be viewed as that but other persons were carrying out most of the killings.

"So when we were hearing and seeing bodies being picked up around the country on a daily basis, some of those killings were actually done" by other persons.

Stabroek News