A three-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry was Friday morning sworn in by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan to probe the discovery of an unnamed private maritime vessel in Guyana’s sea space.
Brigadier (retired) Bruce Lovel took his Oath as Chairman in the Chief Magistrate’s Courtroom along with members, Assistant Commission of Police (retired) Winston Cosbert and Ministry of the Presidency Staff Christine Bailey.
The vessel which was tracked by Guyana’s drug enforcement authorities was intercepted in the vicinity of Shell Beach and brought into the Waini River and searched during the month of February, 2017.
It was reported by the authorities that narcotics or other illegal substances were not found on the vessel but a crew comprising of one Guyanese national and five foreigners were on board.
The Vessel was subsequently released by the Agents of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU).
The release of the suspected cocaine ship is now under scrutiny as it is believed that this vessel had transferred narcotics to another vessel which was subsequently seized by US authorities and found to be carrying over four tonnes of cocaine with an estimated street value of US$71.7 million.
The Commissioners who refused to offer any comments, are expected to have their first meeting on Monday where they will decide on possible witnesses.
The Commissioners are expected to hand over a report to the President with information and recommendations that address, in detail, the circumstances surrounding the entry into, the interception, detention and subsequent release of the vessel.
The inquiry will investigate and report on a number of things including the circumstances under which the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit received information and the circumstances under which the vessel was released.
The Commission will also report on the blameworthiness of any person who may have acted in a manner contrary to the laws of Guyana and recommend what disciplinary actions, if any, are to be taken against any officer of the state who is deemed to have been culpable of any act.
The Commission is expected to interview all persons and examine available documents in order to compile its report.
The final report is expected to be presented to President David Granger on or before April 12th, 2017.
Public hearings will be conducted in the boardroom of the Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Public Service.