Thursday, August 03, 2017

Cross-examination of Seelall Persaud, the Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force, on note-taking

By Selwyn A. Pieters, B.A., LL.B., L.E.C.
Lawyer & Notary Public (Ontario, Canada)
Attorney-at-Law (Republic of Guyana, Island of Trinidad)
Created August 3, 2017

The Commission of Inquiry comprising Mr. Paul Slowe, DSM was issued on the 11th day of July, 2017, to-
1. inquire into the persons, places, time, circumstances and events by and through which allegations and reports came to be made of an intention or a plan to assassinate the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana;
2. investigate and review the full range of the Guyana Police Force’s actions and responses to the reports and the extent to which such actions were conducted or executed with due diligence;
3. determine whether any person and, in particular, officers of the Guyana Police Force had information before and after reports were made of the plan to assassinate the President and whether any such officers communicated that information to a superior authority;
4. record and report on what official action was taken on the basis of the information received and whether there was due diligence by the officers of the Guyana Police Force in the investigation of the plan to assassinate the President;
5. review all actions taken by the Guyana Police Force and examine whether there was evidence failure, neglect or omission to thoroughly and properly investigate the intention or plan to assassinate the President and determine whether such failure or omission was intentional;
6. determine the blameworthiness for failure or neglect of officers or persons involved in the investigation and recommend action to be taken against persons found to be blameworthy;
7. recommend steps that can be taken in order to prevent the recurrence of such incident and can be deemed appropriate by the Commissioner; and 
8. identify systemic issues, if any, in the Guyana Police Force’s competence to investigate matters of this nature.

This is part of my Cross-examination of Seelall Persaud, the Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force, on note-taking and record keeping. Read and form your own opinion:

Mr. Pieters: I am Selwyn Pieters I represent the interest of a young reporter Mr. Travis Chase who is also in the Courtroom and I have some questions for you.
Mr. Persaud: Sure.
Mr. Pieters: Now Mr. Commissioner I understand that you were, sworn in as a Police Officer on October 15 1984.
Mr. Persaud: That is correct.
Mr. Pieters: And you are an internationally trained officer as well in terms of experience and education?
Mr. Persaud: That is correct.
Mr. Pieters: And that you went to Harvard University?
Mr. Persaud: That is correct.
Mr. Pieters: What did you do at Harvard University?
Mr. Persaud: A course executive education in National and International Security.
Mr. Pieters: And have you had training as well in other police organisations?
Mr. Persaud:Yes,  I did the FBI National Academy  at the FBI Academy in Virginia USA, and I did Senior Investigating in Officers Course by the Scottish Police I did several drug investigation course by many conducted by many countries around the world
Mr. Pieters: When did you become aware that Mr. Chase recorded an interview with Mr. Gillard?
Mr. Persaud: I heard about an interview being aired sometime maybe shortly after he

Mr. Pieters: When was that?
Mr. Persaud: I can't recall.
Mr. Pieters: Who advised you?
Mr. Persaud: I can't recall either.
Mr. Pieters: Yes, I appreciate that, but let me ask you this Mr. Commissioner do you have a pocket book?
Mr. Persaud: No.
Mr. Pieters: How do you record entries of issues that are brought to your attention by Officers?
Mr. Persaud: Its filtered if there is a need to record I do record.
Mr. Pieters: Right, well who records, if you don't take a contemporaneous recording which is what your job is as a policeman, you are a policeman regardless if you are a Commissioner or Constable, right?
Mr. Persaud: Yes.
Mr. Pieters: And you are supposed to take contemporaneous notes, aren't you?
Mr. Persaud: On matters that are investigating on matters of interest, yes.
Mr. Pieters: And matters that are brought to your attention in your office as a police officer isn't that the case?
Mr. Persaud: No it's not the case.
Mr. Pieters: Did you take any notes in respect to these matters touching in the assassination plot against the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana?
Mr. Persaud: No I didn't.
Mr. Pieters: Why didn't you take notes?
Mr. Persaud: It was not necessary.
Mr. Pieters: I am going to suggest to you that it was.
Mr. Persaud: I am going to continue to say that it was not.
Mr. Pieters: I am going to suggest to you that it was neglect of duty for you not to take notes of an important issues such as this.
Mr. Persaud: I will totally deny that.
Mr. Pieters: Would you said that you know the date when you were advised that Mr. Chase did an interview with Gillard?
Mr. Persaud: No, it was of no interest to me.
Mr. Pieters: It was of no interest to you and we gone get to that.
Mr. Persaud: Yes
Mr. Pieters: Let me finish my question, that‟s the problem as a professional
policeman, you testified to the panel that you have no way of making contemporaneous
Mr. Persaud: That is true unless I find it necessary.
Mr. Pieters: Well let us deal with that.
Mr. Persaud: Yes.
Mr. Pieters: Contemporaneous notes is an aide-memoire... taking notes is an aide-memoire, it aids your memory, and it helps you…
Mr. Persaud:...I don't disagree with you…
Mr. Pieters: It is called an aide memoir, but it also assists you when you testify in
Mr. Persaud: But I didn‟t know that it would have been called to testify on this, had I known that then from day one I would have probably made notes.
Mr. Pieters:(inaudible)
Mr. Persaud: No, I make notes when it's necessary, I didn't find it necessary.
Mr. Pieters: But where is your is your memo book?
Mr. Persaud: I have a personal diary.
Mr. Pieters: Where is your personal diary?
Mr. Persaud: It‟s in the office.
Mr. Pieters: You came to court today, you don‟t think you should have brought it?
Mr. Persaud: No.
Mr. Pieters: If that is what you use to recollect your memory.
Mr. Persaud: I am saying that I didn't write anything in relation to this matter in the diary.
Mr. Pieters: You didn't write anything on this matter, so I will suggest this to you didn't write anything on this matter Mr. Persaud because you thought that all the officers would have covered up for you and exclude you from the whole sequence, that I why you didn't make notes.
Mr. Persaud: I totally deny that I don't know of any commissioner of Police that went to any court and gives evidence of any investigation that the police force conducted during his tenure as commissioner.
Mr. Pieters: That is what I suggest to you, and I will make some suggestions to you…
Mr. Pieters: And you ordered that Gillard be sent on bail as well.
Mr. Persaud: I never knew Gillard was arrested.
Mr. Pieters: You did know…
Mr. Persaud: Until this inquiry.
Mr. Pieters: Well that shows how in tune you are with the police force that you
Mr. Pieters: And when would you have briefed Mr. Ramnarine prior to your leave
in…I think it was the end of February you went on leave.
Mr. Persaud: It is normally done in the week before I proceeded.
Mr. Pieters: Would you have memoed him?
Mr. Persaud: Well no, there were oral briefs.
Mr. Pieters: They were oral briefs, there was no note taker taking notes?
Mr. Persaud: No.
Mr. Pieters: And were you taking notes during the meeting with what you said to
Mr. Persaud: No.
Mr. Pieters: And is Ramnarine taking notes of what you are saying to him?
Mr. Persaud: I don‟t know.
Mr. Pieters: Well you were at the meeting tell the panel.
Mr. Persaud: I did see him writing I don‟t know if he was taking notes or writing
something else, I never review.
Mr. Pieters: So the change over of command is quite an ad-hoc matter…

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