Serial 2099

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 2099 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE01471_e.html.

[The FBI deleted one name from this serial. It is notated below in red type.]

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PAGE 01 GEORGE 01471 061117Z
ACTION ARA-15 INFO OCT-01 ADS-00 L-03 H-01 SY-05 FBIE-00 OCS-06 CA-01 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 SS-15 NSC-05 /062 W
——————093206 070335Z /73

R 031815Z APR 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9344
INFO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN
AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
AMEMBASSY CARACAS
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 1471
CARACAS FOR LEGATT PASS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FOR JIM HERGEN
E.9. 12065: GDS 4/3/85(DWYER, RICHARD A.) OR-M
TAGS: PINT, PINR, GY
SUBJ: COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE THE JONESTOWN TRAGEDY
REF: GEORGETOWN 0232

1. (UNC [Unclassified]) Appeal Court Judge Victor Crane has been appointed the sole commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the Jonestown tragedy, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Information on March 31, 1979. The government had originally announced plans for the commission on January 16, 1979.

2. (UNC) The terms of reference for the investigation and the date for its commencement have not been set, however, the press release reports that “the commission will…have… to proceed in such a manner as not to prejudice the right to a

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fair trial of persons charged with certain criminal offences.” The trial of Amcit [American citizen] Charles Beikman, who is charged with the murder of Linda (Sharon) Amos and her children, is scheduled for the April assizes. A date has not yet been set for the second preliminary inquiry into the murders of Congressman Leo Ryan and four others of which Lawrence [Laurence] Layton is accused.

3. (C) Emboffs [Embassy officers] have learned that Crane has already begun his investigations and has been at it for some time. According to one source, the involvement of Cuban and Soviet diplomatic officials with the Peoples Temple will be made public, as will the role played by some prominent Guyanese officials. It is expected, however, that no name will be made part of the public record without the consent of the Prime Minister, Forbes Burnham.

4. (UNC) Judge Victor Crane, 59, is a British-trained barrister who was admitted to the bars of Guyana and St. Lucia in 1949. From 1957 to 1963 he was Chief Magistrate in Nigeria. He was appointed to the appeal court in Guyana in 1969 and won the Cacique Crown of Honour, Guyana’s highest award for service, in 1975. He is married and has one daughter.

5. (C) Crane has a reputation for being thorough and meticulous. He is probably concerned, as most Guyanese lawyers of good repute would be, to avoid any action that might prejudice the outcome of the Beikman and Layton murder trials. There are indications that Crane may be either the next Chancellor of the Judiciary or the next Chief Justice. Presumably his chances for either appointment from the Burnham government could be influenced by his handling of the People’s Temple inquiry.

Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]

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Originally posted on August 7th, 2020.

Last modified on August 1st, 2022.
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