The Government of Guyana’s alleged “cherry-picking” of findings from an independent review of the Ricardo Fagundes murder probe will only lead to the continuance of corruption allegations against the country’s premier crimefighting apparatus, family members say.
They claim to have more questions than answers after the Home Affairs Ministry issued a release pronouncing the findings and not the actual report to the public. In the release, the Ministry said inter alia, that the Regional Security System (RSS) found no evidence that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) was complicit in covering up the murder, despite an embattled senior cop’s claim.
The family is now questioning the motivation behind the nondisclosure of the official document, dubbing the Ministry’s missive as a mere “interpretation” of the report.
“The parts of the RSS report cherry-picked by the state to be published could not be the most important parts of the report. Without access to the report in its entirety, there remain more questions than answers and more evidence of the continuation of a cover-up,” the family said in a letter to the press.
Ricardo Fagundes, 42, called “Paper Shorts” was gunned down on Main Street, Georgetown, just outside the Palm Court on March 21, 2021. He was reportedly shot over 20 times. His known associate, convicted drug trafficker, Roger Khan, later said that he was the intended target and that Fagundes’ death was a case of mistaken identity. For months the local police force struggled to solve the case.
The matter once again made headlines months ago after a senior detective, Dion Bascom accused the GPF of covering up the crime at the behest of a popular city gold dealer. He said that a large bride was paid.
Bascom made that allegation after he was nabbed with illicit drugs in the city during a sting operation. He professed his innocence, saying that he was moonlighting and that his presence there was not linked to any illegal activity.
The main parliamentary opposition, the APNU+AFC later tethered Bascom’s accusation to its long-held claim of government-sanctioned corruption within the police force. Clamour for an independent review ensued and the government acquiesced, despite its previous position that external help could signal that the country’s crime-fighting agency is ill-equipped to deal with such matters. The party has now joined the Fagundes Family in calling for the release of the full report. Bascom’s lawyer has also written to the Police Commissioner (acting), Clifton Hicken, requesting the release of the document.