ammo to Buxton gang
By Julia Johnson in New York
The Robert Simels trial for obstructing justice by intimidating
witnesses continued yesterday, in the downtown
Brooklyn court with
Judge John Gleeson presiding.
As the court resumed, the judge had to consider admitting into evidence
a letter sent by Robert Simels to Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo on
August 25, 2008.
prosecution team heading to court yesterday
The judge ruled that the document would be admitted but only specific
parts would be allowed to be read or referred to. This was done in the
absence of the 14 jurors.
When the jurors filed into the courtroom, Judge Gleeson told them that
he would be cutting them some slack as the defence and the prosecutor
will wrap up today. He told the jurors they will have three days off and
the court will resume on Monday for summations and his charge to them.
The court was told that Simels in the letter to President Jagdeo, sought
help to obtain documents of the army operation in Buxton, and police
files relating to the investigation into the deaths of Donald Allison
and Dave Persaud.
He was also seeking the President’s assistance in any court documents
relating to any of the potential witnesses who were on the US
Government’s list to testify against Roger Khan.
Yesterday, too, the Prosecution once again brought out 18 photographs
and asked Simels to identify the persons. He was able to identify Gerald
Pereira, Paul and Ricardo Rodrigues, Leslyn Comacho, Sean Belfield,
Fredroy Willabus, Barry Dataram and Clay Hutson.
He said that Pereira, Paul Rodrigues called Paulo and Belfield worked
He denied knowing that the Rodrigues were related. He said that he spoke
with Dataram but never met Willabus.
Simels admitted under cross-examination that when he spoke with Dataram
called Kevin Mogatani or Ledge. Dataram was out from prison on bail and
that he had since not returned to the court in Guyana.
Deliberations could start by Tuesday.
Just after that it got rather heated when Simels was being cross
examined by the prosecuting Attorney Stephen D’Alessandro.
D’Alessandro’s question was whether or not Simels was aware that it
was a criminal offence to attempt to bribe a witness and requested a
‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Simels attempted to give an explanation.
After about three tries the attorney appealed to the judge who
instructed that Simels give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer..
The same thing happened again shortly after and the Judge asked that the
jury be removed from the courtroom and in their absence, literally read
the riot act to Simels.
“Do you understand my instruction? Your career and liberty are at
stake. I understand emotions are running high. I will not put up with
this any longer. You are not abiding with my instructions. I will step
on you in front of the jury and that will not help your case.”
When the matter resumed yesterday morning Simels continued on the stand
and was led by his counsel Shargel.
Simels explained that the laptops were shipped by him to his law
office but that the base which later turned out to be the transmitter
was shipped to him by ex-policemen and one of Roger Khan’s employees,
Paul Rodrigues, called Paulo. (These items were all in the courtroom in
full view of all assembled.)
Simels told the court that Roger Khan told him that he “hardwired”
the then Police Commissioner Winston Felix’s
phone and was able to record all his
telephone calls and produced transcripts.
Commissioner Winston Felix
Simels said that he never saw the equipment used by Khan to hardwire
the system. He said, too, that he did not see any of the transcripts
made of the Felix’s conversations.
Simels told the court that after one of his trips to Guyana he met with
the US Government cooperating witness, Selwyn Vaughn, called Fineman.
He said that he gave Selwyn Vaughn US$1,000 for travel and incidental
expenses since Vaughn was to locate potential witnesses but that the
money was not for a testimony from Vaughn.
He recalled after being shown transcripts of notes he made after
travelling to Guyana that there was an informer who lived in Buxton.
sugar workers (cane
He told the court that the man informed him
that David Clarke, Gordon Benn and Edward
Collins were involved in removing of the decapitated
bodies of slain cane cutters
from the front of the village to the backlands and that the same men,
then serving members of the GDF, gave the Buxton group that were identified
as the Taliban, ammunition.
Simels did not refer to Collins as the then Chief of staff of the GDF.
He said, too, that the informer resigned from the army in September 2007
and went to Suriname where he linked up with Roger Khan.
He added that he wanted the informer to testify on the things he saw in
Buxton. Simels said that he began to seek confirmation of the things
that the informer said. He also made reference to a map that the
Simels told the court that one week prior to his arrival in Guyana he
was told by Khan’s men that Buxton gunmen had entered a city hotel and
slaughtered several people.
All through Simels’s testimony following objections from the
prosecution the judge advised the jury that not everything that Roger
Khan told Simels were to be believed.
He however explained that he was allowing the testimony because he
wanted the jury to be able to consider his state of mind which led him
to do certain things at certain times.
Simels, when questioned about his involvement with Selwyn Vaughn,
said that he believed that Vaughn was taking him for a ride. Under cross
examination he said that he paid him the US$1,000 because his client
Khan had asked that he did so.
According to Simels, he wanted all witnesses to be able to testify since
if any harm befalls the relative of a witness, or if the witness dies,
the testimony could be used in the court and the defence would not be
able to cross examine to ensure the veracity of the statement.
In one of the redacted document that was admitted to evidence, there was
the transcript of a conversation between Simels and Khan where Khan is
telling Simels to have Paul Rodrigues collect the money from one of his
‘buddies’ and that the person had said that he did not have the full
amount because he was getting it in installments.
The issue came up once in the court as transcripts where Khan kept being
asked by Simels for payments for service rendered by his law firm and
the payment agreements were not being honoured.
In the courtroom various pieces of evidence were shown on large screen,
computer monitors as well as side screens where they could be seen,
read, and/or have notes taken. Many of the jurors did exactly that.
As usual the courtroom was packed to overflowing. Few wanted to leave
their seats during breaks, for fear that they would no longer be
available. Most in the courtroom were lawyers, many of them seasoned
Simels’s case has attracted so much interest in the court circuit that
even Judge Dora Irizarry, who is to sentence Shaheed Roger Khan in
November, slipped into the packed courtroom to hear the testimony.
The court will reconvene on Monday morning.
Thursday, August 06, 2009