– activist claims court police received suspicious black bag
The ongoing Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into the high-profile killing of activist Courtney Crum-Ewing has hit a major snag with the police now investigating claims of bribery.
Yesterday, Mark Jacobs, an activist and friend of the late Crum-Ewing, was asked to give a statement to police at the Brickdam Station after an explosive claim on his Facebook page over the weekend in which he detailed what appeared to be suspicious activities at the Georgetown Magistrates Court.
Jacobs again yesterday posted a full statement on the alleged bribery, sparking concerns.
Crum-Ewing was gunned down in Diamond, East Bank Demerara, on March 10th while campaigning against the then government for the May 11th General Election.
His killing drew widespread anger and a call for police to bring the persons responsible to justice.
On August 7th, 37-year-old Regan Rodrigues also known as ‘Grey Boy’ of Riverview, Ruimveldt, and who was well known to the police, appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore and was remanded to prison, after he was charge for Crum Ewing’s murder.
The court matter involving Rodrigues seemed to be progressing well in the Georgetown Magistrates Court until last week Thursday, October 29th, when Jacobs said things took a suspicious twist.
In his statement, the activist who had joined Crum-Ewing on several of the peaceful protests in front the offices of the Attorney General on Carmichael Street earlier this year, said that he received a call on Thursday from Eustace Harcourt, stepfather of the late Crum-Ewing, who said that the matter was being held in Court 5.
Jacobs claimed that prior to this, he was informed that the Police Prosecutor in the case had allegedly contacted the Rodrigues family requesting $3M to fix it.
“We spent a lot of time thinking what to do with this information and decided we would just go to court and observe who was there and what happened,” Jacobs said.
The activist said he arrived at the courts after 10:30hrs and passing security checks, proceeded to the court where the case was being heard.
He said he saw a trio on the balcony outside, comprising two fair-complexioned elderly men, a fair skinned woman, along with two female police officers.
In court, Jacobs said, he sat next to Harcourt. While the magistrate was not in, there were two police officers whom he named.
The two policemen were seen making “many trips” in and out the courtroom.
Jacobs claimed that he saw one of the policemen outside the court receiving a black bag from the woman, who was among the trio.
He placed the black bag into his pocket.
The trio soon left and went outside of the court. “I took a photo from the balcony and went downstairs to take a few more photos. They were discussing money and the lady mentioned the names of a few persons who were to bring more money or made promises to do so. I do not recall any of those names.”
Jacobs said he was joined by Crum-Ewing’s stepfather and they decided to visit the Brickdam Police Station and talk to Commander Clifton Hicken to tell him what they had observed.
“We walked to Brickdam Station but Hicken was not there and (we) were told by a female Sergeant that an officer named Amsterdam was in charge but he was busy seeing other members of the public.”
Jacobs said that as time was running out, and lunch was approaching, he and Harcourt engaged a Detective whose name he learnt was “Jessemy” and explained what transpired at Court 5.
“Jessemy expressed shock and disgust and called in another plain clothes officer named Whittaker. Jessemy asked me a number of questions to get the full story. He said it was a very serious matter and he wanted to make sure he didn’t unnecessarily embarrass an officer on false accusations. He went over the incident a few times.”
Jacobs said that Crum-Ewing’s mother also made a complaint to the Crime Chief’s Office at Eve Leary.
The activist said that “Jessemy” instructed an officer to head down to the courts and search the policeman who reportedly collected the black bag from the three persons.
“I am a member of the Central Housing & Planning Authority Board of Directors and had to attend a meeting, so I did not return to the court to observe the search. Eustace Harcourt accompanied the detective.”
Jacobs said that he called for an update about 3pm and learnt that the officer did not follow the instructions given to him by “Jessemy”.
As a matter of fact, Jacobs said that Crum-Ewing’s stepfather told him that no searches were conducted on the three policemen, a development which forced him to leave in disgust.
“I later called Jessemy and told him (the officer) did not do as instructed and blew the investigation. Jessemy said the officer said he searched the man but he did not find anything.
I said I would return to Brickdam with Eustace Harcourt to discuss the matter further with Jessemy but I never did and I’ve not called him back since.”
Jacobs insisted that the case is being tampered with and that an excellent opportunity was lost when the Constable suspected of taking a bribe was not searched.
On Saturday, Jacobs said that he wrote about what happened and published it on his Facebook page.
He called for the police officers in court, whom he named, to be removed from the duties immediately and the matter thoroughly investigated.
He said that he is willing to take a polygraph test and would like the policemen to be subjected to one too.
Yesterday, when contacted, Commander Clifton Hicken said he did not see Jacobs’ statement but wanted to have a look at it.
It was emailed to him. He later contacted the newspaper and said he wanted to talk to Jacobs as the matter appeared serious.
The Commander said that he would be out of the office and that Jacobs should give a statement to “Jessemy”.
Late yesterday, Jacob said he met with “Jessemy” who said he will be in contact, as the police will be investigating the allegations made.
Crum-Ewing, 40, well known for his one-man protests, was shot dead while urging residents to vote against the then ruling party.
He had also wanted the former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, to step down for an infamous phone conversation that the minister had with a senior reporter of Kaieteur News in which he disclosed possible knowledge of a gun attack on the country’s biggest selling newspaper.
His killing was widely seen as being politically motivated.
After weeks of no breaks and with a new Government in place, the police announced in July that they had arrested an individual who was in possession of a .32 pistol. The firearm reportedly turned out to be the same weapon that was used to kill Crum-Ewing.
They later detained Rajput Narine, a former CANU officer and ex-bodyguard of former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, for questioning, but soon released him.
Days later they charged Rodrigues for the murder.