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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Felix court move reckless - Teixeira
Gail Teixeira

Home Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira last night condemned Top Cop Winston Felix's move to the courts to block questions by Prime Minister Sam Hinds on controversial tape recordings as "reckless" and undermining his professionalism.

She also excoriated Felix's charge that the government and embattled businessman Roger Khan appear to be on the same wavelength in trying to expel him from office. "I would like to disclose to the Commissioner of Police how erroneous his conclusions are and the height of recklessness he has publicly displayed in making those unworthy claims", Teixeira said in the statement issued at 9 pm.

It was the latest high-voltage contretemps to flow from tape recordings circulated by persons close to drug-accused businessman Khan. The recordings have unleashed a storm of controversy enmeshing Khan, Felix, the PM, Teixeira, the US embassy and the PNCR among others. Teixeira's statement came on the same day she, Felix and other top security officials made a rare visit to the crime-besieged village of Buxton. (See other story on page 11.)

On Tuesday, Felix approached the High Court and sought orders seeking to quash Prime Minister Hinds' decision to send a letter to him on June 2 setting out a host of allegations derived from the tapes and asking him to respond urgently. Lawyers for Felix are also seeking an order prohibiting the PM from proceeding with any investigation for the purpose of whether to advise President Bharrat Jagdeo to appoint a tribunal to investigate his possible removal as Commissioner of Police. (See other story on page 12.)

In his affidavit in support of the motion, Felix made a number of controversial statements including that it "…appears to me that the Government of Guyana has adopted Mr Khan's stated objectives and has purportedly commenced invocation of the constitutional provisions to effect my removal from office". He also alleged that the PM had abdicated his constitutional responsibility through being influenced by unnamed third parties.

Winston Felix

Teixeira fired back last night. In a five-page statement she noted that it was only on June 9 when asked by the media for her opinion on Felix she had said that he was a professional and had given her support in her functions as the Minister of Home Affairs. Referring to his pleadings in court which were reported in yesterday's Stabroek News, Teixeira said "if the Commissioner of Police has nothing to hide and the disclosures on the tapes are all forgeries, surely in the face of mounting public concern he would see merit in not opposing an investigation as laid out in the constitution".

She said many Guyanese have been shocked and affronted by the revelations on the tapes. "So serious were those disclosures such as, shielding criminals, conspiring to divert attention from criminals, aiding and abetting unlawful actions and planting drugs on innocent people, that no one questioned the government's responsible action in seeking external technical and professional advice on the matter".

She declared that what Felix appeared to be overlooking in his court pleadings was that since the release of the first tape in March - allegedly of him and PNCR Vice-Chairman, Basil Williams - "neither by commission or omission has the government sought to constrain the Commissioner of Police and the Joint Services from discharging their statutory functions with regards to law enforcement interventions".

Teixeira added that the joint operations which began after the disappearance of 30 AK-47s from the army's headquarters led to "raids on the properties of persons allegedly involved in narcotics as well as those known to the public and internationally in the narco-trade on March 19. The Commissioner cannot allege or accuse the government of any attempt to interfere in this process".

The government has also not tampered in any way with the joint services battle against armed bandits, hijackers, fuel smugglers and gun runners in their search for the weapons missing from the army or the capturing of the members of the Buxton or other armed gangs, Teixeira contended.

The Home Affairs Minister who also delivered the statement last night on NCN TV argued "in fact, what the Commissioner is fully aware of has been the government's timely and heightened moral, financial and logistical support for him and the Joint Services, in their response to criminal activities".

Moreover, since the release of the tapes, the loss of the GDF weapons and the murder of Minister Satyadeow Sawh and others, the government has funnelled a further $20M to the joint services for intelligence gathering, authorized the deploying of the army in the crime fight and mobilized international aid for the crime investigations, Teixeira said.

Citing his now famous refrain to `hold me accountable' when he was sworn in as Police Commissioner, Teixeira said "Many hard working policemen and women are facing the loss of credibility of their organization, the Guyana Police Force, It is that context that the Commissioner is ignoring".

Upping the pressure on Felix, she noted that the commissioner had not yet responded to Khan's public statements that he (Khan) shared a once "cozy relationship" with the Top Cop.

"On the surface, it seems that the Commissioner has embarked on an unprofessional course of action, seeking to discredit the Prime Minister and the administration while using the courts and other technicalities to stave off an investigation into his conduct".

Teixeira, who replaced the now High Commissioner to India, Ronald Gajraj as Home Affairs Minister around a year ago, posited that by inference and words Felix had "unprofessionally and (precipitately)" petitioned the courts, thereby prejudging the actions of the PM and the President.

"Most unacceptably, he went further to accuse the Prime Minister of abdicating his constitutional responsibilities and taking actions governed by partisan political interests", Teixeira argued.

Without identifying anyone, she said the commissioner's apparent preoccupation with a battle with Khan had nurtured an opportunity "for those who have unmistakable partisan political agendas to lead him to this confrontational and unmitigated attack on the government. He has cast his lot with a partisan political outlook".

The emergence of the tapes has posed two dilemmas for the government which are still unresolved. Are the tapes authentic and can it be proven who the speakers are? And who is behind the tapes, what risks this poses to national security and whether this is not an attempt to discredit the Commissioner and thereby ease the pressure from underworld figures. The first tape was released after several establishments belonging to Khan were raided by the police/army in search of the weapons. In turn, these raids came after Khan had played several of these tapes for officials of the US DEA to hear at the Ocean View Hotel. That meeting had followed the indictment of Khan on a drug charge by a New York Grand Jury. Observers said the Ocean View meet was a bid by Khan to counter any attempt by the Americans to pursue proceedings against him and he therefore decided to play the Felix tapes. The police had also issued wanted bulletins for Khan and three others which are being challenged in court.

There are also credible reports that tapes from the same source exist of Teixeira and Felix and that these could be released at some point.

Felix for his part has maintained that there is no proof that the recordings are authentic and he has said that a key, possibly incriminating segment was spliced to produce the desired result. That conversation is contained on the second tape and makes it seem that there would be an attempt to plant drugs on a theft suspect. It was from that point onwards that the furore mushroomed.

Stabroek News