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Jagdeo denies links to Roger Khan, death squad

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday denied knowing convicted Guyanese drug lord, Roger Khan or being part of any death squad.

Speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of his incumbent People’s Progressive Party, Jagdeo broke his silence on the widely held view that he had been associated with Khan who is serving an extensive jail term in the United States for cocaine trafficking. “I never met Roger Khan,” he said.

“Roger Khan was never my friend. In fact, he was friendlier from my intelligence reports with some of the names I mentioned before,” he added.

The former Commander-in-Chief denied claims by opposition parties and other interest groups that his administration had hired a Khan-led death squad to go after dangerous criminals during the 2002 to 2006 crime spree. “I know I never gave a single illegal instruction ever in my tenure, anything that is contrary to the Defence Act, the Constitution nor have I asked anyone to deny any citizen of this country any of their rights including to set up, they say, these death squads,” he said.

Jagdeo’s administration had remained silent on newspaper advertisements by Khan in which he had claimed that he had helped prevented a coup but on Thursday the former Guyanese leader said he was unaware  of a plan to topple his administration. “I don’t know about Roger Khan averting any coup in this country because I don’t think there was a plot to overthrow the government from our security forces,” he said.  He believed that efforts were being made by certain persons in Buxton and their intellectual authors to create instability in the country.

The Jagdeo administration has instead used phone-tapped recordings of conversations purportedly involving then Police Commissioner Winston Felix and senior People’s National Congress Reform member Basil Williams.

Khan was initially caught here with sophisticated mobile phone tapping equipment that is sold only to governments. He was believed to have led the charge in hunting down several heavily armed gang members who had been killing ordinary civilians.

A letter purportedly bearing the signature of then Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy to the British manufacturer of the device had surfaced in a New York court trial.

Khan was caught on June 15, 2006 in neighbouring Suriname and transferred to Trinidad where federal agents snatched and took him to the US for trial. In 2009, he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for drug trafficking and witness tampering.