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Top cop asks for time; policemen deny baton-sodomy of detainee

Police Commissioner, Leroy Brummel

Police Commissioner, Leroy Brumell on Thursday said he has asked Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes for time to conduct a probe into a policeman’s baton-sodomy of detainee two months ago.

Brumell said he has not given Hughes any commitment concerning a GUY$100 million demand for assault and injury to 23-year old Colwyn Harding. “We are aware of the matter- the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility)- and I have asked him to let good sense prevail and let this investigation be completed to finality and when I say finality, I mean go to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) for advice,” Brumell told a news conference.

Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon earlier Thursday said government would not voluntarily compensate Harding if the matter is taken to court.

The Constable and others have denied committing the act on Harding between November 15 and 19 when the detainee was charged and taken to court for allegedly assaulting a peace officer and disorderly behaviour. He was remanded to prison after he failed to post GUY$50,000 bail.

“The ranks have denied the allegation of using the baton in the rectum as is mentioned,” said Brumell.

Targeting a deadline of next Tuesday for the investigation to be completed, police have already taken statements from the constable who allegedly perpetrated the incident and eight others, including an Assistant Superintendent, who were transferred on Wednesday and Thursday (January 15 and 16) to stations in Georgetown where they could be better supervised. Deputy Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud said the policemen were transferred to minimize the level of distrust in the police by members of the community. “We are an organisation of public trust. When an allegation of an incident is made that affects public trust the first thing that we want to do is to move them out of that community because it will affect the relationship. Secondly, if is unprofessional behaviour then you want to put them also at a place where there is more supervision, there are higher ranks and so on ,” he said.

The Deputy Police Commissioner could not immediately say whether the police force would move to the High Court to seek an extension for the Constable’s detention because much depended on evidence gathered or likely to interfere with witnesses.

Efforts were Thursday being made to obtain statements from officials of the Guyana Prison Service because it was there he had alleged that the police had assaulted him with a baton. “But he never said that the police used a baton to the rectum with condom,” he said. Plans are also being made to acquire information from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and question the Court Orderly whether Harding had complained of being assaulted during his court appearance.  Investigators are also due to question Harding who remains an in-patient at then GPHC in a serious condition and hopefully acquire a copy of the video recording of the sodomy that was allegedly made by the constable.

Commander of ‘A’ Division, George Vyphuis said he knew nothing of the alleged incident until Commissioner Brumell first learnt of the incident through a text message during the second week of December. The Police Commissioner said neither he nor the Commander checked back with each other because it was being treated just as an assault.

Vyphuis said he first learnt of the severity of the alleged assault last week Thursday (January 9) when Harding’s mother played a phone recording of her son’s account of what had allegedly transpired. “I knew nothing before then…It’s until when the mother spoke with me then I had a clear picture of what allegedly transpired at Timehri,” he said, adding that the probe was accelerated.