Former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Retired Rear Admiral Gary Best on Friday said the force and the then opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) did not amass concrete information to charge convicted drug dealer, Shaheed ‘Roger’ Khan, with other crimes.
Khan and several associates were intercepted by a GDF patrol on December 14, 2002 in a bullet proof vehicle with a cache of weapons as well as sophisticated cellular telecommunication interception equipment that is sold only with government authorisation.
The former Chief-of-Staff said “bits and pieces of information” had been picked up by the GDF’s Military Intelligence Unit and passed on to the GPF. “Did we receive information that the State could have acted on criminally and lead a charge against Mr. Khan? I don’t think we did. We have a lot of information that (if) processed perhaps could have gotten to that stage,” he said.
Best, former Chief-of-Staff Retired Brigadier Edward Collins and Retired Police Commissioner Winston Felix have been openly associated with the PNCR and the governing coalition since 2015, after having served under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) during the 2002-2008 crime spree.
Asked to explain how after four years in office and more than 20 years in opposition, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) could not gather sufficient information to charge Khan – who was deported from the United States (US) on September 21, 2019 after serving more than eight years imprisonment for cocaine trafficking – Best hinted strongly that the information with the State agencies might have disappeared and that the PNCR had been relying on information that might not have been factual or reliable.
“The party, in opposition, didn’t have the government apparatus to do investigation so its information, in large part, would have been anecdotal. It would have received information from some witnesses who came forward and stated things that occurred and they would have witnessed but in a State you expect the apparatus to remain intact so what the party expected that when it came into government, it would therefore find whatever evidence was gathered by the State and State institutions to deal (with) the issue of (alleged) crimes that were perpetrated by Mr. Roger Khan,” said Best who served as Chief-of-Staff from 2007 to 2013.
He credited the GDF with supporting the GPF in eventually leading to the rendition of Khan to the US in 2006. Khan had fled Guyana to neighbouring Suriname where he had been arrested and eventually flown to Trinidad from where US agents had flown him to New York for arraignment on cocaine-trafficking charges.
Best, who is an elected executive member of the PNCR, said his party was concerned that “many persons seem to be escaping the law” but at the same time he said it was a collective effort of the law enforcement agencies and ordinary citizens to bring in perpetrators. He encouraged persons with evidence to come forward as the President David Granger-led administration would “provide as much protection to persons who need to come forward and give that evidence”. He noted that in some instances persons could be compelled to provide evidence.
While Khan had been hunted down by police and soldiers, a number of public statements under his name had been published in the privately-owned Kaieteur News that he had prevented the Bharrat Jagdeo administration from being toppled.
On arriving here last month, police had questioned him in connection with the killing of Afro-Guyanese activist, Ronald Waddell and former boxing coach, Donald Allison. Three days later, Khan was released on station bail and ordered to report to police weekly. The GPF has since said it was seeking help locally and overseas with information based on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Opposition Leader Jagdeo has expressed surprise that President Granger has said hard evidence and witnesses had been hard to come by, after years of the coalition in and out of office linking Khan to state-sponsored death squads that had been allegedly responsible for the killing of 400 mainly Afro-Guyanese. Jagdeo earlier this week described the list of persons as “fake”.