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George Bacchus willing to speak - relative
-but wants firm security guarantee

George Bacchus, the man at the centre of explosive death squad allegations, wants to provide more information but is concerned about his safety and wants firm security assurances, a relative told Stabroek News yesterday.

The relative, who preferred to remain anonymous because of security concerns, says that Bacchus faces a dilemma over his safety because neither the State nor the police force could be relied upon to protect him since he has implicated them in the operations of the death squad. There is also no witness protection programme that could be offered to him.

Bacchus had visited the US embassy on several occasions to tell officials there his story as a means of enhancing his security but the relative says as of now the embassy is unlikely to provide any guarantee for his safety as he is not a citizen. Sources also say that the US embassy is likely to tread carefully in this matter considering the sensitivities of the Guyana Government.

Several weeks after his allegations, the government and the police force had called on Bacchus to come forward and give a detailed statement. Critics had said that the police had ample opportunities to take a statement from him during his earlier visits to them in relation to the murder of his brother Shafeek Bacchus.

For several months now, George Bacchus has kept a low profile because of concerns over his security. Suggestions have been floated that the private sector or some other civil society organisation could take on the responsibility of guaranteeing his safety considering the seriousness of the charges that have been raised by him.

The relative said given the concerns over safety they wanted to proceed very carefully.

George Bacchus sparked controversy when he said he was the intended target of men who gunned down his brother Shafeek earlier this year. George Bacchus said he had used his own resources to provide information to the death squad on notorious criminals who had then been terrorising the country. After the criminals had been put out of commission, George Bacchus said the death squad members started gunning for him because he (George) had complained that it had transformed itself from a crime-fighting unit into a guns-for-hire operation.

Three men were eventually charged with Shafeek Bacchus' murder based on George Bacchus' allegations. One of the accused subsequently died under mysterious circumstances in the hospital and lab tests are currently underway in the US to establish his cause of death.