Serial 2290
Aug 23, 1979 • 1357 • Georgetown-State • 3774

[Editor’s note: This is a State Department cable that was included in the FBI’s 2009 RYMUR release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. It was not included in the State Department’s own release, but we have included identifying information for it using the agency’s designations.]

PAGE 1 GEORGE 03774 231357Z

[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]

0 231357Z AUG 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0403
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE GEORGETOWN 3774
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY
SUBJ: PROSECUTION OF LARRY LAYTON
REF: A: STATE 216273
STATE 131182
GEORGETOWN 3189

1. The following information was gathered by Emboffs [embassy officers] from Assistant Commissioner of Police Cecil Roberts and Deputy Public Prosecutor [George] Jackman (Public Prosecutor [Emanuel] Ramao is currently out of the country). Some of the questions raised in Ref (A) will require a response at a more senior level, and will be raised with Attorney General [Mohamed] Shahabuddeen. The Attorney General, however, along with other senior government officials, is fully occupied this week with the biennial conference of the ruling Peoples National Congress (PNC), and thus may not be available until next week.

2. Layton confession: Layton’s “confession” took two forms: an oral statement made to police officers shortly after being turned over to police at Port Kaituma on November 18 and a written statement made three or four days later. The oral confession, sworn to by a police constable, consisting only of the statement to the effect of “Yes, I shot those (blank blanks)”. The written statement relates that Layton asked Jones for permission to board aircraft and shoot pilot; Jones’ refusal to approve this; and Layton’s decision to take a gun and nevertheless proceed, as well as a statement that he began firing as soon as [he] heard firing by the other assailants. The written, signed statement included a typed warning of the uses to which such a statement may be put, that it was voluntary, etc., said to be exactly the same as used in British police proceedings and similar to US Miranda cautioning. Both statements are admissible in criminal proceedings, with the proviso that the judge be satisfied with the bona fides of the police constable in the case of the oral statement. Layton was not threatened, according to the above sources, so neither statement was obtained under duress. The Deputy Public Prosecutor has promised to make copies of the statements available to the Embassy.

3. Charges against Layton: Embassy has requested statement of charges. Sources state simply that charges are five counts of murder, plus a number of other charges which are relatively inconsequential.

4. The desired witnesses, who will be required for the preliminary inquiry are [name deleted], Monica Bagby, [names deleted]. [name deleted] is said to have asked for payment of wages lost should he travel to Guyana (a third source states [name deleted] made same request), while Roberts believes that [name deleted] is unwilling to return. Jackman states that there is no Bagby deposition, but only her sworn testimony in the flawed first preliminary inquiry. (Verbatim notes are usually not taken in the PI. The Magistrate takes his own notes.) Vern Gosney, of course, was evacuated by the USAF hospital aircraft immediately on his return to Georgetown from Park Kaituma, and thus there is no Gosney deposition, although Jackman states he would be interested in having one. (Copy of the FBI interview with Gosney was given Roberts some time ago.) Proceedings of first PI cannot be used in a new PI, and therefore Jackman considers it essential that witnesses return for new PI.

5. Deputy Prosecutor Jackman appeared receptive to the idea of providing a US liaison person to the prosecution, but this is decision which must be taken at a higher level.

6. Both Roberts and Jackman asserted that with return of witnesses, GOG [Government of Guyana] has very solid case for PI without whatever physical evidence may be available from US.

7. GOG has taken no firm decision as to who will prosecute case.

8. Embassy would like to be able to inform Attorney General in next meeting that it might repeat might be possible for USG [US Government] make arrangements to satisfy salary demands a limited number of witnesses.

9. For L/ARA Fortune: Intimacy not yet successful in obtaining solicitor Gillette’s current address in Trinidad, but is exploring means of finding it.

Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]

Originally posted on November 9th, 2020.

Last modified on July 19th, 2022.
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