[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 2438 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.]
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[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]
P R 091925Z MAY 80
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2447
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE GEORGETOWN 2179
BOGOTA FOR LEGATT
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAYTON, LARRY)
SUBJ: TRIAL OF US CITIZEN LARRY LAYTON FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER
1. Summary: The fifth day of the trial for attempted murder of US citizen Lawrence [Laurence] Layton saw Presiding Judge Lindsey Collins rule that the confession given by Layton to the Guyanese police on November 22, 1978, was admissible as evidence. The confession was read to the jury by Police Inspector Jag Mohan. End summary.
2. The senior counsel for the defense Rex McKay argued that Layton’s signed confession to the murders of US Congressman Leo Ryan and four others and to the causing of injuries to several other persons had been obtained under duress. McKay claimed that Layton had not been fed for four days prior to his confession and furthermore that the police had had no evidence against Layton on which to hold him until he confessed. Layton, testifying on his own behalf, declaring that the police attempt to make a dark, foul-smelling cell at Port Kaituma and again at Georgetown Police Headquarters and that he had been denied access to an attorney, the US consul, food, and a bath.
3. The prosecutor replied that no record existed of any such complaints having been made by Layton or his attorneys prior to the trial. Layton had opportunity to make such complaints before a magistrate at the time he was charged and to the US
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consul. Layton responded that he had been afraid to make these complaints in the presence of prison officials.
4. Judge Collins rejected the defense’s arguments and instructed Police Inspector Jag Mohan to read the confession to the jury. Trial will continue on May 12.
Roberts [George B. Roberts, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]