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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Felix responds

POLICE Commissioner Winston Felix, embroiled in a controversy over bugged audio recordings, yesterday met the government’s deadline for him to respond to allegations being made against him.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who received the requested response from Felix yesterday, was studying the reply.

The Prime Minister wrote Felix Friday bringing to his attention “certain complaints, accusations and/or allegations” being made against him and requested that he respond by yesterday.

The response from Felix came despite the suggestion by the Guyana Police Association (GPA) that the Commissioner should not respond unless the tapes were authenticated.

The association, in a statement Monday, claimed that unless the Government authenticates the tapes before launching an investigation it “may be widely perceived to be an action of Government which favours those who are involved in murder, drug trafficking, gun running, violent crime and other criminal and illegal activities.”

An observer noted it was “automatic” for the GPA to take such a position and pointed out that it did not address the contents of the tapes, in which a voice purportedly that of Felix discusses issues of national security with a member of the opposition, in the first instance, and planting cocaine on a woman, in the second instance.

The GPA said it “is convinced that it would be premature and wrong for the Government to commence any investigations, or for the Commissioner to make any response, until such time as the recordings are authenticated and a validation of actual evidence of impropriety or illegality is established.”

The conversation on the first tape covered the 30 AK-47 rifles stolen from a storage bond in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) headquarters compound in Camp Ayanganna, Georgetown and this evoked laughter between the two men.

That conversation also included a discussion of incidents leading up to the recent Agricola and Eccles, East Bank Demerara massacre of eight persons.

The voice, supposedly that of Felix, posited that the current government wanted an extension of its time in office and a discussion ensued about the power vacuum and other implications were general elections not to be held on time.

In the second tape, the voice allegedly that of the Commissioner reveals plans to plant cocaine on a woman being investigated for robbery and to use the Central Immigration and Passport Office in achieving the scheme.

The letter by the Prime Minister to Felix was intended to ensure that due process is followed and the Commissioner of Police has a fair hearing, sources indicated.

According to Article 211 (4) of the Constitution, the prescribed authority (the Prime Minister or the Chairman of the Police Service Commission) would have to advise the President on the question of an investigation into possible misbehaviour, the sources said.

As per procedure, the President shall then act in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Services Commission on appointing a tribunal. The tribunal shall then enquire into the matter and report its findings to the President.

The President, the sources explained, cannot suspend the Commissioner of Police before the tribunal ends its work, only if the Police Service Commission so advises.

Felix is due to go on pre-retirement leave on August 15, 2006, but can elect to take his leave earlier, the sources indicated.

Guyana Chronicle