Granger assassination plot inquiry: Lawyers differ over Police Commissioner Persaud’s involvement while on leave

Last Updated on Friday, 18 August 2017, 13:29 by Denis Chabrol

Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud in the witness box at the Commission of Inquiry into the police force’s effectiveness in probing the alleged plot to assassinate the President.

Attorney-at-Law for the Guyana Police Force, Ian Chang on Friday said Mr. Seelall Persaud was still constitutionally Police Commissioner although he was on vacation and in keeping with the law, he called the most senior officer of the station at the the time.

However, television journalist Travis Chase’s Attorney-at-Law, Selwyn Pieters slammed Persaud for calling Inspector Narine on March 29 and asking that his friend, Imran Khan, be released on his own recognisance because he did not have GYD$10,000 to pay cash bail.

Imran Khan was accused of disorderly behaviour at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters the same day his brother, Nizam, was being questioned about an alleged assassination plot against President David Granger.

Andriff Guillard on Mach 29, 2015 reported to the police that Nizam Khan at an unspecified date in June 2015 had offered him GYD$7 million to assassinate the Guyanese leader. Police Legal Adviser, Retired Justice of Appeal, Claudette Singh has said the evidence was so weak to charge anyone with incitement to commit murder

In closing arguments before the Commission of Inquiry into the assassination plot, Chang reasoned that based on the Guyana Constitution Persaud was not on leave of absence pending relinquishment of the office of Commissioner, Assistant Police Commissioner David Ramnarine could  not have been appointed Commissioner and so he “was never” the top cop while Persaud was on annual or vacation leave and the power and authority remained with  Persaud at “all material times”.

Acting Police Commissioner, David Ramnarine

“It, therefore, follows that at all material times, Commissioner Seelall Persaud, even though on annual vacation leave, had the administrative power and authority to instruct the grant of station bail to Nizam Khan and/or Imran Khan and/or Andriff Guillard. But, did he instruct? Even of he did, there was more than sufficient factual basis for him to exercise his administrative discretionary power to instruct the grant of station bail,” Chang said in closing arguments.

However, Pieters contended that Police Commissioner interfered an investigation by the Major Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department by calling Inspector Narine on the question of bail. “He said that he guaranteed this person showing up in court or showing up to the police and what that means he put himself in the place of a surety. That’s not the role of a Police Commissioner. No police officer can do that even for family members,” Pieters said in his closing arguments.

The television journalist’s  lawyer said if Persaud had done so in any other jurisdiction, he would have been arrested for obstructing justice because such an approach would affect public perception and the administration of justice. Pieters noted that, against the background of Police Commissioner Persaud saying that the investigation had centered around treason, the rules prohibit the granting of bail.

The Attorney-at-Law urged Inquiry Commissioner Retired Assistant Police Commissioner, Paul Slowe to examine why it is Police Commissioner Persaud never called acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine even out of courtesy but alleged called Imran Khan on his cell phone. “He granted the man no professional courtesy betwween March 29 to April 2nd. He is calling all the persons below Ramnarine but not Ramnarine. You cannot have Sir, in our respectful submission, look at thatvery lightly. The Guyana Police Force cannot be allowed to run like that where  you have a Commissioner of Police not speaking to the second-in-command on very important issues,” he said, adding that Persaud told the Commission of Inquiry that he had considered it a waste of time to do so.

Pieters submitted that Guillard’s allegation that some time in June 2015 he was offered GYD$7 million by Nizam Khan to assassinate President Granger was not properly investigated. He said the police could have done much more detailed work in getting to the bottom of the story.