GUYANA: Condolences Pour In For Slain Minister As Police Now Tout Assassination Theory

Satyadeow SawhGEORGETOWN, Guyana, Apr. 25, 2006 – Condolences from across the Caribbean region begun pouring in yesterday as the nation of Guyana gets ready to pay final goodbye to agriculture minister, Satydeow Sawh, today. But the perpetrators of the murders remain at large even as the country’s police force last night pushed aside a robbery theory and instead said it was a well-crafted assassination plot.

Guyana Police Force, in a statement last night, said they traced the plot to wipe out the minister and his family to the village of Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara. “Based on a careful study, scrutiny and analysis of the total picture surrounding the incident, it now appears that the bandits intended to eliminate all possible eye witnesses and execute the minister and his family,” the statement said.

This came following the disclosure that a joint service operation was conducted in the backlands of Buxton, yesterday. A government statement last night said the raid discovered military clothing, an infrared goggles and a collapsible tent. Police also confirmed that at least two of the weapons used in the April 22 execution was also used in the Eccles/Agricola, East Bank Demerara bloodbath of February.

The Guyana government, meanwhile, yesterday said it has asked the United States and Canada to help solve the latest murders for 2006 as a post mortem conducted on the four persons slain Saturday showed the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Sawh is set to be cremated at 1 p.m. today at the Good Hope cremation site on the East Coast of Demerara. But the tributes will begin from 8:30 this morning when members of the ruling Peoples Progressive Party/Civic say their goodbyes at Freedom House in Georgetown. A day of national mourning has been declared.

An official tribute will follow on the lawns of Castellani House from 9:30 a.m. while the funeral service for the slain minister will be held at his home at La Bonne Intention from 11:30 a.m. A number of wakes were being held in communities across the country in honor of the late minister.

Yesterday, Caricom, top envoys from Britain, the United States, Canada and the European Commission and CARDI was among those paying tribute to the minister, who returned from Canada to Guyana in 1992 to serve in the PPP/Civic government.

In a joint statement, Guyana-based diplomats from Britain, the United States, Canada and the European Commission “expressed sadness and outrage” at the killings.

While Chair of Caricom and Prime Minister of Trinidad, Patrick Manning, described the murders as “loathsome.” Manning, who is battling a crime wave in his own country, called the killings unprecedented, but said he is confident that Guyana’s authorities would do all they can to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Edwin Carrington, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, also voiced his own awe at the killing stating, “Words cannot adequately express the shock and depth of sadness we feel at the untimely death of Mr. Sawh and all those who were slain with him.”

While the Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean Community, who gathered in St. George’s, Grenada, for the ninth meeting of the Council of Foreign and Community Relations, expressed their revulsion over the heinous act of violence.

“Such acts of violence have no place in the democratic culture of the region and undermine the political, economic and social stability of the countries of the Community,” the ministers stated, echoing the sentiments the President of Guyana on Saturday.

They also expressed the hope that the investigations launched by the Guyana Police Force would result in the capture of the perpetrators.

And officials of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, remembered the minister as “… a valued member of the Board of Governors of CARDI who was steadfast in promoting and seeking the welfare and livelihoods of all in the farming and agri-business sector of the Caribbean.” CARDI’s Executive Director, Dr Parham, is set to attend the funeral today.

Sawh, along with his brother Rajpat Rai, sister Phulmattie Persaud and security guard, Curtis Robinson, were assassinated at the minister’s home in East Coast Demerara, last Saturday. But Sawh’s other brother, Omprakash, survived as did two security guards and the minister’s wife, who hid in a closet in their LBI Home.

The bandits reportedly came and left on foot. Minister Sawh is survived by a wife, three sons and several relatives. The guards and the minister’s other brother are receiving medical attention at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.

One of the guards remains in critical condition. His relatives were visiting from their homes in Canada when the execution occurred. Persaud’s body is set to be returned to Canada for burial. (