Return the Remains
Press release from Committee
for Human Rights in Grenada (UK)
There is now conclusive documentary evidence that the remains of former Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop were removed by the Unites States forces during their invasion in 1983 and that the Grenadian Government has been aware of this for some years.
As previously reported, in a document entitled Library of Congress (extracts of an interview with Charles Anthony Gillespie, who served as the interim Charge d’ Affaires and Chief of Mission during the United States invasion of Grenada in 1983), Mr Gillespie makes reference to a visit to Grenada by a Congressional delegation on 4th November 1983 – ten days after the invasion on October 25th 1983.
Gillespie states: “They flew into Grenada, landing at Point Salines. I met them and got into the car with Congressmen Foley and Cheney and Assistant Secretary Motley.. . So, as we drove to the hotel where they were going to be put up, we started our major show and tell for these guys. They made their inquiries. I would tell them, “Marines were killed here. Helicopters were there. This was the headquarters. This was the hospital that was attacked. This is where this and this incident happened. This was all shot up. This is where Maurice Bishop’s body was found,” and so forth.”
We consider that it is reasonable to believe if Gillespie was able to point this out on 4th November, it is clear that the body / bodies had been discovered by the US forces much earlier than 9th November when they subsequently claimed.
Towards the end of the interview, Mr Gillespie indicates, “I returned to being Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Caribbean in March 1984. We haven’t covered a few small details involving the forensic examination of Maurice Bishop’s body. I went out with a team from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. These guys were just remarkable going over those remains. They wanted to have me there so that I could understand what they were doing.” Although it’s unclear whether Gillespie went out to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in (AFIP) in Washington DC, this is conclusive evidence that the US forces had the body of Maurice Bishop and that they subjected it to forensic examination. The body must therefore have been whole, which is contrary to what the jury were told by the prosecution in the trial of the Grenada 17.
That the US has the remains is confirmed in a recently leaked Government of Grenada cable from 2007 which states, “Assistant Secretary Thomas A. Shannon promised Mitchell in a one to one meeting in June, when the Prime Minister was in Washington for the conference on the Caribbean, that the USG (United States Government) would make another effort to search U.S. files to determine the location of the bodies of the former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and members of his cabinet.” This is a clear admission that the U.S. has the remains, and that the Prime Minister was aware of this.
What is not clear is whether any request has been made for the return of the remains. Following the ruling of the Privy Council in February 2007 that the life sentences given to the Grenada 17 were invalid, the case was returned to The Grenadian Supreme Court which subsequently handed down reduced sentences on June 27th.
A leaked cable States: “Prime Minister Mitchell called Charge on June 28 to say that he was concerned about the sentences, but reiterated that the GOG (Government of Grenada) would abide by the ruling. He was planning to address the nation soon. Mitchell added that he was getting a lot of pressure from “people, including my own family”, who say he is not pushing the United States hard enough to tell where “they” put the bodies. He said he had “asked” the Under Secretary (sic) for help in locating them”.
However, an extract from a further cable claims that the Prime Minister: “Mitchell did not actually raise the issue in his meeting with Assistant Secretary Shannon, but announced that he had in the subsequent press conference. The PM is continuing to maintain this fiction.”
The families of those who were killed on Fort Rupert have the right to have closure and to be able to give the remains of their loved ones a decent burial. CHRG is therefore calling on the Grenadian Government to demand the immediate return of the remains of Maurice Bishop and the others, and to explain to the people of Grenada what actions they have taken in the past to secure the return of the remains.