On the eve of a 26-year-old East Ruimveldt man possibly being charged for the murder of a policeman, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes is concerned and worried that Police Investigators are refusing to take evidence from a number of witnesses including a police officer, who could prove that the murder accused Shaka Chase was no where close to the scene of the shooting death on April 27, 2013.
At a Sunday evening press conference outside the Headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department, Hughes said he was retained as the Attorney for Shaka Chase on Sunday afternoon and immediately decided to visit the man at the Diamond Police Station on the East Bank of Demerara where he is being held. The Attorney said he interviewed his client at length and it was clear that the man had a “full proof alibi”.
According to the Attorney, he also interviewed Chase’s sister, Sarah Chase, who confirmed that on the day the Policeman was shot dead in the city, the two in the company of other people were at a bar in the East Ruimveldt area for most of the day where a Bar B Q event was being held. “I then discovered after interviewing her that there were at least no less than eight or nine witnesses including a Police officer who were drinking at the same establishment as he was since 11 in the day”, Hughes said.
The murder accused has been held by the Police since last Thursday. He has complained about being badly beaten and tortured by Police Investigators and forced to sign a statement confessing to the crime.
Hughes said when he made an attempt at the Diamond Police Station to have the Officer on duty take the statements from the witnesses who could confirm the man’s alibi, they were directed to Georgetown and the CID Headquarters. Once there, the attorney said he presented himself and the witnesses and was again told that they would be unable to accept any statements. He said a policeman on duty at CID said no one was there at the moment to record the statements.
“The Guyana Police Force seems to be rushing to another form of erroneous judgement by bringing to court another young person who will be charged with murder without even beginning to conduct the most rudimentary elements of investigation”, Nigel Hughes contended. He stated that no attempt was made by the Police to interview any of the eyewitnesses who could have supported Chase’s alibi.
With no police officer being available at the CID Headquarters to record the statements from the eyewitnesses, Hughes decided he was going to do so himself at his office. He said “this seems to be another example where we would have another young urban citizen charged for an offence where there has been an inadequate investigation and clearly where there are several eyewitnesses who say not only was it difficult but it was impossible for him to have committed the offence”.
The Attorney is looking at the possibility of moving to the High Court to address the matter before the young man finds himself before the Chief Magistrate facing the murder charge. Under the Laws of Guyana, murder charges are indictable and bail would not be granted.
Shaka Chase’s sister, Sarah said on the day that the Police officer was shot, she was in the company of her brother when they received a phone call that the Police were “calling his name in the killing”. The woman said she immediately accompanied her brother to the East La Penitence Police Station since she was fearful that he could be shot dead by the police had they come looking for him.
She said he was held overnight and questioned and eventually released. According to the woman, on at least three occasional after he turned himself in, they visited the Police station together in keeping with a request from the Police that he checks in regularly. She said it came as a surprise to the family last Thursday when the man was rearrested and told that he would be charged with the murder.
The sister further explained that since he has been in Police custody, he has been badly beaten, tied up and tortured by police investigators and she is convinced that senior Police Officers are aware of the torturing and beating that her brother endured. She said he has been vomiting blood and trembling non stop since the “beating and torture” incident.
Police Corporal Roman Cleto was shot dead on Saturday, April 27 2013, as he approached a heavily tinted vehicle on Avenue of the Republic in Georgetown. His patrol had pulled over the vehicle after reportedly noticing an obscure license plate. Cleto was shot dead on the scene while the other officers who were apart of the patrol were injured. Ballistics tests have confirmed that the gunmen used at least two high-powered weapons and a handgun.
Several persons were initially rounded up and questioned as part of the investigations, but no charges were filed against anyone.