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Killing of West Berbice youths: Police deny Argentine expert’s claims that he wasn’t offered info, didn’t meet Crime Chief

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 January 2021, 20:56 by Denis Chabrol

Left to right: Dr Luis Fondebrider, the Argentine Ambassador to Guyana, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie.

The Guyana Police Force on Tuesday rejected claims that appeared to have been made by Argentine Forensic Anthropologist, Dr. Luis Fondebrider that he was never offered forensic reports and videos of the autopsies conducted on the bodies of the Henry cousins and Haresh Singh who were killed in early September.

However, the police force and the Home Affairs Ministry did not respond to the fact that Dr. Fondebrider said he had asked for the reports to include detailed information for him to “analyze the forensic work done related to the case.” Neither the Home Ministry nor the Police Force has reacted to his claims that no one has responded to his requests.

Responding to a letter apparently penned by Dr. Fondebrider in the 12th January, 2021 edition of the privately-owned Stabroek News newspaper that he was never offered  to view videos of  the autopsies, the police force insisted that he was told that he would get the reports and the recordings.

Guyana Police Force spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Royston Andries-Junor, countered saying that so far the Argentine expert has not responded to the offer.

“It was in this meeting in the presence of all attendees that the offer was made for the Guyana Police Force to share with him a copy of the video of the post mortem examinations conducted on the Henry boys and to date the Administration of the Guyana Police Force is not in receipt of a formal response from Dr. Luis Fondebrider as it relates to that offer,” the police force said in its statement.

Further, the police force rubbished the expert’s claim that he merely met with the Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn but he was not afforded the opportunity to meet with Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh and Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum.

“There is photographic evidence to contradict the claim that Dr. Luis Fondebrider did not meet with the Crime Chief. And what is more bizarre about this false claim, is the fact that the Crime Chief himself presented a brief to Dr. Luis Fondebrider in the presence of all attendees at this meeting on the status of the investigation and the work that the Guyana Police Force had conducted so far in the matter,” the police force said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday for the first time  stated publicly that the Guyana Police Force would provide copies of its forensic reports and videos of the autopsies conducted on the bodies of the Henry cousins and Haresh Singh who were brutally killed in early September, 2020.

This explanation came weeks after Dr. Luis Fondebrider had stated publicly  on December 15 that he had dispatched a list of 20 items that he needed from police in order for him to send a report on his fact-finding mission concerning the killing of Isaiah and Joel Henry.

Referring to the December 15 meeting by Dr. Fondebrider with Home Affairs Minister  Robeson Benn, Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie and the Head of the Criminal Investigations Department Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, the Home Affairs Ministry on Tuesday said,” at this meeting, Dr. Luis Fondebrider was advised that he would be provided with the video of the autopsies conducted in relation to the Berbice incidents, and the forensic reports of those autopsies. ” Also present at that meeting was Argentina’ Ambassador  to Guyana, His Excellency Felipe Alejandro Gardella.

The Home Affairs Ministry noted hat Dr. Fondebrider was offered to meet with Government Pathologist Dr. Singh, who at the time was on his way to duty in Lethem, but the Argentine expert left the next day. The Home Affairs Ministry said Dr. Fondebrider was also advised that should the need arise for assistance from his agency beyond the normal resorts which are employed, contact will be made with him.

The Henrys’ bodies had been found on a coconut estate aback Cotton Tree Village West Coast Berbice on September 6, 2020 a day after they had gone to pick coconuts to sell. Days later during unrest to protest their killing , Haresh Singh had been killed and his motorcycle burnt as he had been heading to his farm at Number Three Village, West Coast Berbice.

The clarification by the Home Affairs Ministry was issued one day after surviving family members protested outside the Headquarters of the Police Criminal Investigations Department, calling on Mr. Blanhum to end the information blackout on the status of the investigations and work harder to arrest the killers and bring them to justice.

A group of civil society activists and individuals had also publicly called on the Guyana government to take up the services of Dr. Fondebrider.