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Army removed beheaded cane cutters from Buxton front to backlands - Simels

August 6, 2009 | By KNews | Filed Under News 

supplied 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.

The 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 for Khan.
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.

Selwyn Vaughn

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.

Then Police 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.

Edward Collins 

Kidnapped sugar workers (cane cutters)

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.

  NY-courtroom-sugar-workers   Gunmen-fire-aircraft


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 informer made.
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.

Robert Simels

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 practitioners.
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