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Guyana Asked to Probe Cop Killings

August 27, 2001

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) _ The killing of three suspects by Guyanese police _ and the fatal shooting by officers of two people protesting the deaths _ reveal a pattern of excessive police force, Amnesty International said.

On Saturday, President Bharrat Jagdeo’s office acknowledged receiving a letter from the London-based human rights group but declined comment. Jagdeo has promised a full investigation into the Aug. 14 killings of a man and two teen-agers by officers.

``Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the ... killings are part of a pattern of extrajudicial executions and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials in Guyana,″ said the letter.

Members of an anti-smuggling squad shot and killed Azad Bacchus, 41, his son Shazad Bacchus, 15, and Azad’s nephew 18-year-old Fadil Ally, in what the police said was a shootout on a highway 120 miles east of Georgetown, the capital of the South American country.

Relatives and local human rights groups dispute the police account, saying the three were detained and executed.

Azad was out on bail on charges that he tried to kill an officer in 1992, police said. The three slain men also were accused of transporting merchandise toward neighboring Suriname with the intent of smuggling it across the border.

Days after the incident, about 600 stone-throwing protesters stormed the headquarters of a police anti-smuggling squad responsible for the killings. Officers opened fire, and two men were killed. The protest was in eastern Corrivertown, where Azad and his son lived.

The Guyana Human Rights Association claims officers have been involved in 15 extrajudicial killings this year. The national police say they have only killed suspects in self-defense.

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