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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Nagamootoo/PPP talks
reach dead-end

By Andrew Richards

Talks between PPP stalwart Moses Nagamootoo and the leadership of the party on the possible role he could once again play in the hierarchy of the PPP and affairs of the State have reached a dead-end.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Nagamootoo told Kaieteur News that he is, however, still a member of the party since he has not resigned nor been expelled, nor is he dead.

“The discussions have strayed into areas which I have not canvassed at any time during the talks,” he said. “It has reached the stage where I consider the interest of the members and supporters, and decide what stance I should assume with regards a small number of persons who decided that I should be excluded from a role in the party's leadership and the country's development.”

He maintained that he will continue to defend the interest of the party's members and supporters.

Asked whether he would consider joining up with the political groups which call themselves the third force, Nagamootoo said he could not be part of any third force but would participate in “one mighty Guyana force.”

“The intent is to bring about a government of national unity where Indo- and Afro-Guyanese serve as the pillar of such a united front.

“It is the only force which will hold a solution for our crisis-torn country,” he said. Kaieteur News tried several times to contact PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar on the status of the talks, but was unsuccessful.

Nagamootoo had told Kaieteur News that he began to have difficulties with the leadership of the PPP over time since the death of its founder, the late President Dr Cheddi Jagan in 1997.

He found that his contributions were being met with growing intolerance and hostility.

When this became apparent, he began phasing himself out of the PPP, but he emphasised that it did not mean that that he has given up his love for the nation.

Nagamootoo stated that it would have been hard to walk away from politics, having been involved for over 44 years.

He had urged the rank and file of the PPP to start asking questions and demanding answers, one which must be whether it is worth it that the party should be disunited particularly at this time.

Ramotar had written Nagamootoo on May 13, 2005, stating that the latter had resigned from the party's executive committee – a charge which Nagamootoo said is an arbitrary interpretation of his walkout of an executive committee meeting.

Nagamootoo wrote a subsequent letter to Ramotar on May 23, 2005, denouncing the executive committee's interpretation of his actions.

Minister 'Sash" Sawh assisination

Guard recalls night of terror

When Aga Khan left for work on April 22, he never imagined that his life would be threatened in anyway.

Khan is a simple man who fathered five children and lived by himself since his wife died about a year ago.

He was never really bothered about anything nor did he allow anything to bother him.

He was content to live his life the way it was, doing his job as a guard and visiting with his children and grandchildren as often as he could.

For him that Friday was a normal easy going day, he did all the things he would normally do around his home.

He rested a couple of hours before preparing for work and was quite relaxed when he got to his location at Minister of Agriculture Mr. Satyadeow Sawh's residence.

Khan liked working at that location because, as he said, ‘Minister' was a nice person to work for.

He never gave the guards any trouble and according to Khan the guards respected the family.

The other reason he liked working at that location was because his stepson, Curtis Robertson, worked there too. Somehow that made him feel secure.

Khan was not certain what time Minister Sawh and his family came in that Saturday night, but he remembered the Minister saying good night to them, and inquiring if everything was in order, before going into the house.

Khan said he chatted a little with his stepson, Robertson, before resuming his position at the back gate of the yard.

He then settled down for another quiet night. Things were always quiet in that area.

At some point during the night Khan recalled communicating with his stepson who was located at the front gate by radio.

It was a habit for them to check on each other during the night.

With that out of the way he settled down to wait for morning, but that peace and tranquility did not last.

In what seemed like mere seconds the peace was shattered with the barking of the Minister's dog and other dogs in the neighborhood.

“I never hear the dog behave like that before. That is how I know something wrong,” Khan recalled. “So I left the back and started walking towards the front to see what happen, but before I get half way to the front, I hear two bullets. Right away I start to run.”

Taking time off to hold back tears, Khan took some deep breaths then continued.

“When I almost get to the corner of the house I come face to face with a man in army clothes and a gun pointing at me. I didn't get time to turn back or holler. All I know is my whole body start getting numb and I fall to the ground.”

Khan said he knew nothing else until he woke up in the hospital.

To him that in itself was another nightmare. Before he could come to grips with where he was and try to figure out what had happened he was being whisked away for emergency surgery.

Khan's son, who was on duty at another location, also said that his father managed to radio him saying that they were attacked by bandits and that Curtis Robertson was hurt.

It was a long time before Khan could really focus on what had happened, but he remembers almost everything that he had experienced.

Khan believed that when he came face to face with the man in army clothes his stepson was already hurt. The two bullets that he heard must have hit Curtis Robertson, since that was the only way that man could have been in the yard.

The man, who gave 12 years of his life to Strategic Action Security Service, thought only of his family as he lost consciousness that night.

He had no idea that the Minister and his relatives were wounded, moreso dead.

He would never forget the experience.

“Minister Satyadeow Sawh was a good man; so too was my stepson,” Khan said, while wishing for more than one reason that they were both still alive.

The death of his stepson is very painful and his heart goes out for Robertson's reputed wife, Rehanna Haywood, who has seven children to care for all by herself.

So far, his other son who is Operations Manager with the same security company and other relatives has been very instrumental in assisting her with the funeral expenses and with the children.

Khan says he believes there is a God and that has kept him alive.

He had another surgery on Tuesday to repair some damage to his intestines and to further increase his chances for a successful recovery.

Rehanna Haywood said that she was at work when Khan spoke to her on the radio set, but the reception was bad. She said that she could only make out a few words but she understood that bandits had attacked them.

It was her brother-in-law, Mohamed Khan, who also heard the transmission and relayed the information that her husband was shot.

Both Haywood and Mohammed Khan said that Aga Khan had not told any of them during his transmission that he was hurt.

One can only imagine how selfless and caring this man is, they said.

Slain carjacker is Plaisance resident

- identified from Kaieteur News photo

The carjacker who was shot dead a week ago in South Ruimveldt Gardens while attacking a Sheriff Taxi Service driver has finally been identified as 27-year-old Quacey Leacock of Plaisance, East Coast Demerara.

Leacock's sister, Dianne Leacock, identified him last Thursday after visiting the Lyken Funeral Parlour on being informed that the slain man was her brother.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Dianne Leacock said that her brother's reputed wife, who is from Plaisance, claimed that she last saw him two Saturday nights ago.

She said the woman claimed that Quacey had informed her that he was “going out” after receiving a telephone call from someone whom he claimed was a cousin.

He never returned.

She said that about two days after his disappearance Quacey Leacock's spouse spotted a photograph of a slain carjacker on the front page of the Kaieteur News. The woman immediately recognised the slain man as her reputed husband.

“She came to Linden and told us, and I then identified him,” the sister said.

Dianne Leacock said that she is shocked that her brother met such a brutal end. “I am surprised. He was never in any police trouble before.”

Dianne Leacock said that her brother, who has two children aged four and one year, had lived at Canvas City , Linden , where he had operated a shop.

However, he subsequently moved to Plaisance to live with the mother of one of his children, and reportedly made a living by selling beverages on the sea-walls.

Leacock was slain last week Sunday when he, along with an accomplice, attempted to force a taxi driver from the Sheriff Taxi Service into the trunk of the victim's car.

Leacock and his accomplice had turned up at the Sheriff Taxi Service's South Road base and asked the driver to take them to South Ruimveldt Gardens .

However, the men then asked the driver to stop in a street behind the South Ruimveldt Shopping Plaza and it is there that they attacked him.

While one of the men, now identified as Leacock, pretended to be paying the fare, his accomplice, who had a handgun, struck the driver on the forehead and ordered him out of the vehicle. The driver claimed that the men were attempting to force him into the car trunk when he managed to grab the firearm.

During the struggle, Leacock reportedly kept urging his companion to shoot the driver. However, it was Leacock who was eventually shot during the struggle.

The driver said he eventually managed to wrest the firearm away from the other bandit who then took to his heels.

The firearm, a Rossi .32 revolver, was subsequently turned over to police ranks who arrived on the scene.

Trini flown out on special jet

Handcuffed and under heavy police guard, Trinidadian fugitive David Millard, also called ‘Buffy', was flown out of Guyana yesterday to face murder and attempted murder charges in his homeland.

Police officials said that Milliard, also called Mustapha Abdullah Muhammad, was transported out of Guyana at around 14:10hrs by a Lear jet that had arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport from Trinidad for the fugitive.

Kaieteur News understands that a high-profile Guyanese attorney hired by Millard had approached the High Court in an attempt to block his extradition.

The attorney must have filed for the order using the other names the man presented to the authorities leaving the loophole for the authorities to deport the man they found out to be Millard.

Once he arrives in Trinidad , Millard, who is a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen lieutenant, is expected to face trial for the murder of Jillia Bowen and the attempted murder of Salim Rasheed and Adel Ghanny.

He will also be arraigned on conspiracy to murder charges.

Millard was arrested in Guyana at a Collingswood, Nandy Park residence on Tuesday during a joint services operation to recover the 33 AK-47 assault rifles that were stolen from the army.

Five others, including another Trinidadian identified as Joseph Aboud and two women and two men were also detained.

A computer, several cellphones, and a 9 mm pistol were seized from the house.

The Trinidad-based newspaper, the Saturday Express, said that investigators from Guyana had questioned Millard about the April 22 murders of Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh, his brother, sister and bodyguard at their East Coast residence.

According to the Saturday Express, Guyanese intelligence officials said they believe Millard, who was also held for overstaying his time in Guyana , is involved with a group of contract killers.

Contacted by Kaieteur News yesterday, local police officials confirmed that the Trinidadian was questioned about the killings of Minister Sawh and others, although they had nothing to link him to the murders.

Millard had identified himself as Edmund De Frietas upon his arrest on Tuesday.

However, based on information, Guyanese police sent his fingerprints to Trinidad authorities who confirmed that he was in fact Millard.

According to the Saturday Express, Millard had also told Guyanese investigators that he was an American citizen and had served in the US Army.

The Saturday Express said that Millard had served in the US Army but was deported from that country and is a Trinidad citizen.

Millard had also told investigators that he was the bodyguard of a businessman, whom he identified as one Clayton Hudson.

The Saturday Express said that Millard, who was given a Cabinet-appointed post at the National Housing Authority, fled Trinidad in late 2003.

Arrest warrants for the murder of Jillia Bowen in June 2003 and the attempted murder of Salim Rasheed and Adel Ghany outside MovieTowne have been issued for Millard and he is also jointly charged with Imam Yasin Abu Bakr on charges of conspiracy to murder Rasheed and Zaki Abudiah.

Millard was a close associate of Bakr and was on the Jamaat's executive. He was also an ally of slain gang leader Mark Guerra.

In 2002 Millard was appointed programme coordinator of the NHA refurbishing project replacing former PNM senator Muhammad Shabaaz who was fired from the post to accommodate Millard's hiring which had been reported by the Saturday Express.

Amerindian traffic cops subjected to abuse

Twenty-seven young Amerindian men from interior locations last year signed up to join the Guyana Police Force.

Many of them wanted stable jobs and thought that joining the law enforcement body would be the perfect way to earn an income.

Others wanted to follow in the footsteps of relatives who were cops.

Little did these men know that they were going to be subjected to abuse, the likes of which they had never been exposed to in their former sedate lives.

Some of them have been beaten, spit on, kidnapped, laughed at by the colleagues and embarrassed by the judicial system.

The young cops are perplexed about this treatment and ponder whether they are being harassed because they are Amerindians.

Many are considering quitting.

Kaieteur News understands that all the Amerindian recruits, upon the completion of their training, were placed at Division `A', Brickdam as traffic ranks.

But bus drivers described the new ranks as merely a presence.

Some hire car drivers noted that the ranks cannot deal with most drivers, especially those operating minibuses.

Consider this scenario.

A route 42 minibus driver is loading his vehicle with passengers at an unauthorised location.

His action catches the eye of two Amerindian traffic cops, Jose and Rocky (not their real names).

They approach and softly ask the driver to stop loading. The driver simply smiles and replies “Lock me up nah” and continues to load his bus, ignoring the two ranks.

“This is wuh we go through everyday; sometimes we does wan run back home because dem drivers just don't care and is not dem alone, the car drivers dem and all don't give we the respect,” Jose said after the encounter.

Rocky said he has observed something strange since he has been patrolling the city streets, especially the minibus parks.

“I don't know if it's because we are Amerindians or wha but some of my other Amerindian brothers are scared to be out here. I don't know if it's because we does try to be polite to them drivers or maybe it's because some of us don't shout and cuss up,” Rocky said.

“I believe some of the Amerindian cops too soft and need to be properly supervised because like everybody taking advantage of them,” one bus driver said.

Another bus operator said he had seen instances where drivers are pulled over by these ranks and before they could ask any question, the driver simply drives away.

Two other Amerindian traffic cops, Brian and Jason (not their real names) joined the police force because it was the only way for them to get a stable job.

“Jobs are very hard to get where I live so when I hear `bout the police dem recruiting, I sign up. Then I went pun de training and exams which wasn't too hard…then they place all a we who went on the course into different departments, but I notice that all the Amerindians get select for traffic and all a we end up now at Brickdam,” Jason lamented.

Most of those interviewed by Kaieteur News said they had travelled to Georgetown prior to the training. However, they did not know the city well.

Brian said, “A senior traffic police came with us when we first come on the road and after three days we were on our own. For me I was scared but I have my family looking up to me and my village, I can't quit.”

They say they work different shifts, the earliest being 07:00hrs to10:00hrs, while the latest is 18:00hrs to 21:00hrs.

“I does be sorry for me self sometime, but I believe that after pushing and pushing, I will get up. Even my wife does be sorry for me sometimes she really want me leave but I cannot quit,” Rocky lamented.

Earlier this year, two Amerindian traffic policemen were abducted and beaten when they tried to arrest a route 40 minibus driver and conductor for a traffic violation.

It was stated that the policemen boarded the bus and ordered the driver to head for the Brickdam Police Station. Instead, the operators drove past the station and headed to Sheriff Street with the hapless cops still on board. The driver eventually stopped on Sheriff Street, where the conductor assaulted the policemen, reportedly slashing one in the process. The men were reportedly thrown from the bus and the culprits drove away.

When contacted, Assistant Police Public Relations Officer, John Sawyers said the perpetrators were subsequently arrested and charged.

Those whom we interviewed said they preferred to direct traffic at busy intersections than to go after drivers who break the law.

Some of the policemen added that while the drivers do not give them much respect, they look to their superior for support which is usually not forthcoming.

“Sometimes these drivers does want give we a hard time; they don't want to hand over documents and then when you see one a dem bike cops you does feel good but sometimes when they ride up they does know them drivers and they does just sey ‘lef he, I know he' and we does left there feeling embarrassed,” Brian said.

Brian often tries to avoid drivers who have been let off the hook, fearing that they will taunt him.

Many of those interviewed said their perspective of the police force have changed because they have witnessed many corrupt practices, contrary to what they were taught in training school.

“Even when I carry in a driver, or sometimes when my fellow brothers take drivers in and write up the books, in many cases they don't end up in court. I would see some of them back on the road in less than an hour. I does feel bad and I remember on one occasion I went to find out from the bosses the reason the driver back on the road, they just tell me ‘everything ok' but I don't think everything okay,” Jose said.

Chief Traffic Officer, Roland Alleyne said he was not aware of this situation, adding that these were mere allegations and referred Kaieteur News to the Traffic Officer at Brickdam who was unavailable for comment.

When asked why the policemen patrolled city bus parks on their own after a brief supervisory period, the Chief Traffic Officer continued to state he was unaware of any problem facing the Amerindian ranks.