Last Updated on Thursday, 25 March 2021, 12:57 by Denis Chabrol
Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn on Thursday gave skimpy details concerning the execution-style gunning down of gold miner, Ricardo Fagundes, earlier this week, and dismissed suggestions that the dead man was allegedly linked to drug trafficking.
“I haven’t asked for more (from the police) other than they are working on it so there is nothing more to be said about that,” Mr. Benn told reporters.
The Home Affairs Minister also said there was no word on the motive for the killing.
Reacting to a claim by the non-governmental Policy Forum Guyana (PFG) was allegedly linked to the drug trade, not only the gold sector. “I don’t know anything about that… I don’t want to speculate on what it is saying, they can bring it to the attention of the police but I can’t deal with speculation,” he said.
The PFG made its observation in dealing with the wider issue of a criminalizing of the extractive sector in Latin America, particularly the links between gold and cocaine is attracting much international attention. “Closer to home the recent assassination of a gold dealer with allegedly a foot in both camps prompts uneasy memories of a period Guyanese had hoped was behind them. That sector must be re-focused to serve Guyanese purposes,” said the PFG which includes the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA).
Mr. Benn’s brief engagement with the media followed the Police Commissioner, Nigel Hoppie’s dodging of reporters for a second straight time. On Thursday, when Mr. Hoppie was approached, he said he was going to the washroom but did not return and instead left through a back door and walked across to the Officers’ Mess. When he saw the media , he said he was going to the Mess.
The Home Affairs Minister said police were yet to determine if there was a link between the gunning down of Fagundes outside Palm Court Sunday night and the discovery of a burnt vehicle on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway hours later. Asked if police were able to ascertain the chassis number on the remains of the burnt car to ascertain ownership, Mr. Benn said he would not speculate. “Those are the details for the CID (Criminal Investigations Department) to give us when they get it. I can only report on facts, not on speculation so we’re waiting on those initial investigative work,” he said.
Amid concern in some sections of the society that Fagundes’ shooting death marked the return of the killing spree between 2002 and 2008, Mr. Benn said authorities were doing all they could to suppress gun crimes and execution-style killings. “I want to assure the public that we are working hard to eradicate lawlessness, particularly gun crimes in Guyana and crimes of that sort so we’re working hard at it. We’re reviewing the posture, the procedures, the reactions which should happen when there is such an event so that we mitigate, prevent and to deal with those type of activity,” he said.
Fagundes was shot dead at about 9:30 Sunday night shortly after leaving Palm Court on receiving a telephone call.