Tuesday 20th June, 2006

 

The trail has gone cold, but cops hope to reopen file on Richardson’s murder

 
 
 
 
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On the 11th anniversary of the killing of former AG Selwyn Richardson, police confirm that the cold case will be reopened

Maurice Piggott

Martin Joseph

Lincoln Myers

Jules Bernard

BY PETER BALROOP

He was in the shadow of the sanctuary of his Samaan Drive, Cascade, home, waiting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle for the gateway to be opened, when former attorney general Selwyn Richardson was gunned down on the night of June 20, 1995.

Two assassins pounced on Richardson and pumped six bullets into his body.

The attack was so swift and deadly that the former AG, under both the NAR and PNM regimes, was unable to try and defend himself with the licensed firearm in the glove compartment of his car.

The vehicle, a white Corolla, PAX 1986, was a sea of 59-year-old Richardson’s blood after the murderous onslaught.

Today is 11 years since Richardson, who also served in several ministerial positions, as well as acted as prime minister, was cowardly assassinated by killers who were suspected by investigating homicide bureau police to be Jamaat al Muslimeen members, Abdul Quadir and Curtis Felix.

But before they could be apprehended for questioning, they themselves were executed.

Quadir’s corpse was found near his car on the Solomon Hochoy Highway, near the Tarouba flyover, while Felix’ bullet-riddled body was stumbled upon in some bushes in Las Quevas.

At the time, Richardson’s mob-style killing was as shocking as the murder, in similar fashion, a little less than a year before, of Dr Chandra Naraynsingh, by a paid assassin who was subsequently identified as Shawn Parris, and who is serving a life sentence for the crime.

Richardson had feared for his life, but did not want to alarm his wife Joyce.

But sources close to him had said, at the time of his death, he was worried that a civil suit he had filed against a weekly newspaper had caused tempers to flare.

And he had noticed he was being followed wherever he went.

An inquest into Richardson’s death, with Magistrate Beecham Maharaj sitting in chambers as coroner, ruled that he had been murdered, but the prime suspects, Felix and Quadir, had themselves subsequently died, causing the murder trail to grow cold.

A former murder accused and kidnapper, Imran Ali, had been arrested and charged with Quadir and Felix’ murders.

In fact, it was suspected that he had hired them to assassinate Richardson.

Then the main witness in the case against Ali was gunned down in New York.

And Ali himself was shot dead in March, 1997, by members of the Anti-Kidnapping Squad, so the trail with regard to Richardson’s murder was not just cold; it had, for all intents and purposes, disappeared.

Nevertheless, at the time the coroner had handed down his ruling, the police had noted that if fresh evidence surfaced, the case would be reopened.

Nothing surfaced, however, during the past nine years.

But now, with the hiring on contract of 39 British law enforcement officers, 23 of whom are already here, according to National Security Minister Martin Joseph, hope has been rekindled that new leads could be secured in the Richardson “cold case.”

This was confirmed on Saturday by Asst Commissioner of Police Maurice Piggott, who is in charge of the Homicide Bureau.

He said Richardson’s file, as well as other cold cases, were being reopened, and the British officers would be asked to look over the evidence to see if it was feasible to resume investigations.

In Parliament earlier this month, Minister Joseph said the British officers were “providing training and expertise to improve crime scene management and investigation, as well our forensic capabilities.”

Joseph also called on the public to back the Police Service 555 information initiative.

Back in 1996, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, then serving as attorney general in the UNC administration, accused the PNM, while on the hustings for the local government polls that year, of deliberately holding back with the investigation into Richardson’s murder.

Maharaj charged that Richardson was killed because he was an indefatigable foe in the fight against the drug trade, and drug lords had made it their business to order a hit on his life.

The PNM, said Maharaj, was protecting the drug lords.

Richardson’s former colleague in the NAR, Lincoln Myers (who says he isn’t aligned to any political party today) agreed that Richardson’s murder was “very sensitive” and that he, too, wanted the police to reopen the file on his murdered maid, Ann Dhanraj, who was killed in mysterious circumstances ten years ago.

Myers said it was “unfortunate” that neither the PNM, the NAR, nor, indeed, the Parliament, “had Richardson’s killing to study,” although he had served for so many years as a lawmaker.

“This is very wrong,” Myers declared.

Neither Myers nor PNM executive member Rose Janniere could say offhand what had become of Richardson’s widow Joyce.

Janniere said her son had attended St Mary’s College along with Richardson’s son, Sean.

But Richardson’s uncle, Lancelot Rivers, who had applied for letters of administration for the estate, told the Guardian that Joyce was domiciled in London, England.

Joyce and their children, Charmaine, Ginelle and Sean, inherited his estate, worth more than $660,000.

Rivers told the Guardian from his Barataria home on Saturday that he had been chatting with Richardson’s brother, Rawle, earlier that day, and Richardson’s name had come up.

Over the years, no special ceremony was held to mark the anniversary of Richardson’s death, said Rivers, whose sister was Richardson’s mother.

Concerning Joyce, he added: “She comes home every now and then, and rings on the occasions of birthdays and so on.

“She is a very beautiful girl.”

Told that the police were holding out hope that even now, 11 years later, that they could find fresh leads in his nephew’s murder, Rivers snorted and declared:

“The police know who did it.”

He recalled that former police commissioner Jules Bernard, at the crime scene on June 20, 1995, had vowed he knew who had committed the murder, and that he would get them.

 

 

 

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