By Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA -- The New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has criticised the local police investigation into the death of Clinton Norton, a Barbadian of Guyanese and Barbadian parentage who died under suspicious circumstances in Bridgetown, Barbados, on September 3, 2012.
Hinting at a cover-up or possible police misconduct, CGID’s President Rickford Burke in a letter to Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart called for “an independent and fair inquiry into Norton’s death; possible police misconduct and involvement and the partiality of the investigation.”
Norton’s body was found inside a Liquidation Centre on September 3. Workers said they saw blood on the floor when they opened the building and called police, who reportedly merely responded, took a report and left. Workers reportedly stumbled upon Norton’s body amidst a pile of plywood and dust, during a search of the building after police left. The body had several apparent cigarette burns, laceration, wounds and bruises, which CGID said suggest he was either in a struggle or was severely beaten or tortured.
The Barbados police subsequently claimed that Norton, who had a prior run-in with them, broke into the building, cut himself in the process and bled to death. However, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, Dr Corinthia Dupuis, invalidated the police’s stated cause of death by categorically ruling out exsanguination (extensive hemorrhaging). She listed the cause of death as undetermined. A coroner, Magistrate Manila Renee, has consequently ordered an inquest.
Neighbours say police officers were seen with Norton on September 2 at his home. They have reported lead investigator in the case, detective Anthony Cadogan, aka Choki, as one of the officers they saw talking with Norton hours before his body was discovered. Neighbours have accused Codogan of being a serial human rights violator. Norton's relatives have expressed dismay over his official role in the case and have demanded his removal.
Burke disclosed that a team of legal experts reviewed the autopsy report and other available evidence, facts and circumstances at the request of the Norton family.
“The judgment of our team is that the police theory is unsupported by the findings of the autopsy and other facts in evidence. The facts and circumstances of this case suggest a possible homicide. It’s a dereliction to discount this,” he cautioned.
No date has been set for an inquest and Norton’s relatives have expressed concern that his death will be swept under the rug. His father Joseph Norton, a Guyanese-American business man, said he was frustrated with Barbadian police, who denied relatives access to identify the body. He also criticised police for being unresponsive and for withholding information from the family.
Clinton Norton had five CXC distinctions and was the father of a fourteen-year-old son. At the time of his death he was in the process of completing the construction of a home.
In his letter to Stuart, Burke called for a full review of police involvement with Norton prior to the discovery of his body, as well as the way the investigation is being handled.
“From all appearances it is well within the realm of possibility that this was a homicide. Any other determination by the police must be established by evidence and facts. We will not countenance speculation, sloppy work or a cover-up by the police. We are therefore calling on the government of Barbados to conduct a speedy inquest into Clinton Norton’s death so as to ensure justice is done and appears to be done,” Burke added.