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Friday, June 30, 2006

-Suriname says he was no longer suspect -lawyer alleges rendition, says client drugged, kidnapped by American agents
Roger Khan

Businessman Roger Khan was last night on US soil facing a drug charge after dramatic events in Paramaribo yesterday led to his handing over to American agents and his lawyers charging that he had been drugged and spirited out of Suriname via extraordinary rendition.

Khan had been centre stage of a riveting four-month drama that crisscrossed Guyana, Suriname and the US and ensnared the joint services here.

Justice Minister of Suriname Chrandrikapersad Santokhi confirmed to Suriname journalists last night that Khan was deported and put on a flight to Trinidad and Tobago by Suriname police. He was then handed over to immigration authorities upon arrival in Port Spain who then handed him over to US officials.

Khan was flown out of Johann Pengel International Airport, Paramaribo on a Suriname Airways flight heavily guarded by police escorts three of whom accompanied him to Trinidad. American authorities in Trinidad and Tobago declined to comment on the matter when contacted by this newspaper yesterday.

The deportation of the businessman came days after a Suriname court had granted an extension of his detention in Suriname and also on the eve of the hearing of motion which was filed by his Surinamese attorney, Irwnis Khanai seeking to block his extradition to the USA.

Paramaribo was adamant yesterday that the Guyanese businessman was not extradited, but rather deported from the country after he was no longer a suspect on allegations of drug trafficking, firearms possession and being part of a criminal gang. There was no statement from Washington up to press time last night. Meanwhile, Khan was up to last night in federal custody in New York, his attorney, Glenn Hanoman told Stabroek News. He arrived in the USA around 4 pm yesterday.

The Surinamese declaration that Khan was no longer a suspect in a recent drug bust came as a surprise as Santokhi and other officials had issued strong statements linking Khan to drugs, crime gangs and plots to assassinate Surinamese officials. The officials had also said that Khan would most likely be prosecuted in Suriname.

Observers say the turn of events probably represents a deal between the US and Paramaribo for Khan to be put in the hands of American authorities for his prosecution in New York. Guyana had already indicated it was not pursuing extradition of Khan at this point as it appeared that the charges in Suriname would be more serious. There was no statement yesterday from the Guyana Government on the latest developments. Observers noted that if Khan was to be deported it would have to be to Guyana since he crossed illegally from here and the best route to send him back would be across the Corentyne River on the ferry.

Thomas Walsh, spokesperson for the US Embassy in Paramaribo told a local journalist when contacted on the matter that he could only confirm that the US government had made a request for the provisional arrest of Khan to Suriname for extradition. He said also that there was an international arrest warrant out for Khan whose name was mentioned in a US State Department drug report this year. With regard to Khan's deportation, Walsh said that was a different matter but he hoped that the businessman could be captured by the US on the basis of the international arrest warrant.

Set free

John Jones, Suriname Police spokesman told Stabroek News when contacted that as far as he was aware Khan was set free by the Surinamese authorities after they found that he was no longer a suspect on the allegations they were holding him for. Jones said the only charge they had against Khan was that of being in the country illegally and as such he was deported. According to Jones the businessman was put on a plane around 6 am Suriname time yesterday and flown to Trinidad en route to Georgetown.

The policeman said he could not say whether Khan was picked up by US officials and he did not know whether flying Khan to the US was in the original plan when the Guyanese was deported. Jones said as far as he knew Khan was deported to his homeland Guyana, adding that from what he was told Surinamese police escorted Khan to the airport and ensured he boarded an aircraft. "All I know is that he was deported to Guyana, they released him from jail, put him on a plane and got him out of the country," Jones said.

He could not say whether US law enforcement officials facilitated Khan's deportation and was adamant that the Guyanese businessman was not extradited, but rather deported.

On the issue of the three other Guyanese, Sean Belfield, Lloyd Roberts and Paul Rodrigues, Jones said they along with the other Surinamese who were arrested on the day of the drug bust are still in custody. He said investigations are ongoing and once there is a case against them they would be charged. Khan had appeared in a Suriname court charged with violating the country's narcotics and firearms laws as well as being part of a criminal gang. Jones said all of these charges were dropped and when asked why, he directed this newspaper to the Prosecutor General or the Justice Minister.

According to Hanoman, shortly after midday yesterday Khan made contact with his relatives in Miami after being afforded a telephone call. He told his relatives that he was on his way to New York. Hanoman said Khan departed Suriname on a Suriname Airways flight to Trinidad and Tobago. He was then placed into a private jet which flew to Miami where it made another stop.

"Cowboy" behaviour

Meanwhile, in a strongly worded statement, Hanoman said that the decision of the Surinamese authorities to send Khan by airplane to Trinidad and Tobago was obviously not done to facilitate his deportation to Guyana. According to the lawyer he was advised that around 11 pm on Wednesday, American operatives were allowed into the Santo Boma Prison, where Khan was being held in Suriname. He was then injected with a substance that rendered him unconscious after which he was lifted out of his cell with a hood over his head and flown to Trinidad and Tobago where a private jet awaited him. In addition, Hanoman said his client was shackled with chains and then flown to Miami.

"It is abundantly clear that Surinamese officials aided and abetted this extraordinary rendition of a citizen of a sister Caricom state. It is to be hoped that Caricom, the Guyana government, the international community and other organizations condemn in the strongest possible terms this 'Cowboy" behaviour displayed by both the Suriname and American governments and even possibly the Trinidad and Tobago government," the lawyer remarked. He said by their actions these governments have indicated that they have no respect for the rule of law, for due process, for human rights or sovereignty. Hanoman said Khan had at least three pending matters that he has instituted in the courts in Suriname, including an action to prevent his extradition to the USA, which was scheduled to be heard today. The lawyer said by this latest move, Khan has been effectively prevented from pursuing his legal remedies. "It reflects poorly," the lawyer remarked "on the executive in Suriname and shows the extent that they are prepared to go to usurp judicial and democratic processes."

Further, Hanoman said he was made to understand that in the first place there was no evidence for which Khan could have been charged in Suriname, which just goes to show that Guyanese in Suriname who have not committed any offence may be subjected to all kinds of treatment. The lawyer said it was shocking that Jones has stated that the other three Guyanese will be kept in custody for investigations to continue into the same allegations Khan was subjected to. "If the alleged ringleader was not charged surely it is malicious to keep the other three on the same facts," Hanoman remarked.

Dismiss indictment

Meanwhile, an attorney for Khan yesterday filed a motion in the United States District court requesting the dismissal of a Grand Jury indictment which alleges that the businessman conspired to import cocaine into that country.

Khan was captured along with three of his cohorts two weeks ago in Suriname during a huge drug bust, which netted some 213 kilos of cocaine.

The seven-page motion filed by US attorney-at-law, John E Bergendahl, outlined among other things Khan's previous clashes with the US law as well as his local crime fighting claims.

According to the motion, on or about April 13, 2006 a Federal Grand Jury sitting in the Eastern District of New York, returned a one-count indictment purporting to charge Khan with conspiracy to import five or more kilos of cocaine into the United States between January 2001 and March 2006 in violation of Title 21 United States Code 963 960 and 906.

According to the motion, on or about May 3, 2006 the US government filed an application requesting that that the indictment be unsealed and an order granting the government's application was also entered the same day. The lawyer argues that the US government requested that the indictment be unsealed despite the fact that Khan was not in custody, noting that on the date the indictment was unsealed Khan was residing in his native country Guyana. According to the attorney despite the fact that the indictment has now been unsealed, no request for Khan's extradition has ever been sent to the government of Guyana. He added in his motion that on June 15 Khan was taken into custody by law enforcement officials in Suriname and was held under deplorable conditions violative of his legal and human rights. The attorney said that on June 21, the US government sent a letter through official diplomatic channels to the government of Suriname indicating its intention to seek the extradition and return of Khan to the US to face trial on the indictment.

Possession of firearm

Giving a background of Khan's past brushes with US law, the lawyer said in his motion that during the late 1980's and early 1990's the businessman was living in the USA and attended the Norwich University in Vermont. On or about November 29, 1993 Khan was arrested on a federal criminal complaint and on December 16 of the same year he was charged in a one-count indictment with possession of firearms by a convicted felon in violation of Title 18 United States Code 922. Khan was released on US$1000 cash bond following his initial appearance held on November 30, 1993.

The lawyer noted that following Khan's release on bond he departed to Guyana and never returned to the USA. On March 30, 1994, the lawyer said the US District Court for the district of Vermont issued an arrest warrant for Khan and on October 28, 1994 Khan's bond was ordered forfeited.

Fighting crime

The lawyer said that following Khan's return to Guyana in 1993 or early 1994 he became an enterprising, innovative entrepreneur. He founded and operated a number of successful businesses including, but not limited to, a housing development and Construction Company, a carpet cleaning service, a nightclub and a timber mill.

Over the next decade, the lawyer said Khan prospered and became a well known publicly recognized figure in Georgetown. "On February 23,2002 a number of violent and dangerous convicts escaped from the Camp Street prison in Georgetown. These individuals went on a crime spree of unrivalled proportions and neither government nor the Guyana Police Force was adequately equipped to deal with the crisis," the motion declared. The lawyer noted that during the same period Steve Lesniak, a member of the US diplomatic corps was kidnapped and held hostage and Khan responded to the crisis and the kidnapping by providing financial and logistical support to the government.

"The support Mr Khan provided was invaluable in assisting the authorities in suppressing the crime wave and securing the safe return of Mr Lesniak," the motion noted.

It added that earlier this year Khan consulted with representatives of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on a regular basis in an effort to assist them in investigating the disappearance of a number of AK-47 rifles from a military facility. Khan also in March, the motion said met with American officials at a meeting at Ocean View International Hotel to address ongoing crime and security concerns in Guyana. The US Embassy in Georgetown had admitted that a meeting was indeed held between Khan and officials of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as part of the ongoing investigation into Khan's alleged ties with the criminal underworld.

Khan released tapes

The motion further stated that in order to expose, identify and curb corruption and incompetence within the GPF, Khan released a number of tape recorded conversations between various PNCR and Police Commis-sioner, Winston Felix.

The motion said that in retaliation on March 19, 2006 members of the joint services raided a number of businesses owned or operated by Khan and subsequently Felix issued wanted bulletins for Khan and some of his associates even though they were not charged with any crimes. This move by the police had led to Khan's attorneys lodging an application in the High Court of Guyana seeking an order nisi quashing the bulletins.

Additionally, the motion noted that the indictment of Khan generated a substantial amount of publicity in Guyana and the businessman responded to the indictment by making a number of well publicized statements saying that he was not guilty of the charges and suggesting that the charges were not only unfounded, but were merely being used as a vehicle to attempt to destroy and discredit an individual who was strong enough to help prevent the overthrow of the Guyana government, which now has leftist leanings and would not serve the United States' best interest in South America.

The motion went on to state that following Khan's detention in Suriname he was beaten and physically abused by law enforcement officers. He said too that he was denied medical attention and visits by his attorneys.

Calling for the indictment to be dismissed Bergendahl said that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a grand jury." To this end the lawyer said the indictment should be dismissed as it is void of any of the constitutional guarantees afforded Khan by the United States Constitution and decision authority from the United States Supreme Court. He argued that the indictment did not say specifically what Khan was charged for.

Stabroek News

woah thats alotta businesses to handle.

great read, great post.

TGhank you this was helpful!


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