Guyanese pirates sentenced for deadly 2018 attack in Suriname
…three others acquitted during dramatic trial in Suriname
By Nafeeza Yahya
NINE Guyanese men were sentenced on Friday in neighbouring Suriname for the gruesome murder of their fellow Guyanese fishermen between April 27th and May 3rd, 2018. Three others were acquitted due to the lack of evidence.
The men were sentenced by sub district Judge, Marie Meetendaf, in Parimaribo following over a year of court proceedings. Seven of the men have been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment each. They have been identified as Chris Parasaram, David Williams, Ganesh Beharry, Madre Kishoor, Ramdeo Persaud, Rameshwaru Roopnarine and Ray Torres. Feroze Baksh will serve 15 years and Terry Durga five years.
Guyana Chronicle understands that three others have been released due to lack of sufficient evidence. They are Premnauth P, Sureshdien N, and Doodnauth M. Sources in Suriname revealed that these men had knowledge of the attack but were not physically present during the attack and were set free.
Between April 27th and May 3rd, four fishing vessels with five crew
members each were hijacked in an area called ‘Young Bush’ in the Wai
Wai Bank, Suriname waters. The men were beaten, chopped, shot, burnt
with hot oil, and sprayed with gasoline. Their attackers also tied heavy
objects to their
bounded feet and told them to jump overboard. Those who refused were allegedly tied together and thrown overboard forcibly. The fishermen’s catch, boat engines and sein were looted while their boats were destroyed or left to drift.
In the aftermath of the attacks, five fishermen miraculously survived. They were Deonarine
Goberdan, called ‘Patar’ 47; Dharamdeo Persaud called Aki Bai; Shwerin Lovell, and another. Three bodies were washed ashore, including Mahesh Sarjoo called ‘Vishal, and Gavin Outar called Long Hai, while 12 others are still missing and presumed dead. They are Tillacknauth Mohabir called‘Caiman’ 51; Bharrat Heeralall called “Cool Record”; “Palam”; “Spanish Man”; “Bandara”; “Mukesh”; Ramesh Sanchara called “Ravo”; Ramnarine Singh, 49; Looknarine Persaud called “Kleine”; Rajendra Bissessar; Danesh Persaud called ‘Vicky’, 27; Ralph Anthony Couchman called ‘Brunham’ 22; Glendroy Jones called ‘Alkaline’ and ‘Joshua’ 20,among others.
Investigators believed the motive behind the attack stemmed from an
incident on the 30th March, 2018, when an alleged pirate, Somnauth
Manohar called ‘Padi’, was shot and killed in a drive-by incident
allegedly at the hands of other fishermen. Fishermen, speaking to this publication last year in Suriname, revealed that at the funeral of Manohar, his relatives had vowed to get revenge. Initially, police in Suriname had detained 30 persons including some immediate family members of Somnauth Manohar, but released 15; while in Guyana, three were charged and remain behind bars. They include the alleged mastermind and brother of Padi, Nakool Manohar called ‘Fiya’, Premnauth Persaud called Sinbad and Alexander Deinharte.
Back in July this year, President David Granger ordered a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the attack. Dr. Rishee Shri Thakur is currently conducting the inquiry. A final report was expected earlier this year, but Dr Thakur had asked for an extension. According to the Terms of Reference (ToR), the Commission shall determine the number and identities of the persons killed in the attack and determine the perpetrators’ motive with a view to holding the guilty accountable.
Further, the ToR stated that the role of state agencies in the
security of fishermen in the area, as well as all persons or
organisations deemed responsible for the death of those persons, will be
investigated. It was noted that a report on a plan of action be
undertaken, both at sea and onshore, to prevent and counter piracy and
related activities by addressing root causes of the phenomenon. The
Government of Guyana, in June 2018, made a one-off payment to relatives
of five fishermen who suffered from the deadly pirate attack. Among
those who each received the sum of $100,000, were Mary Rodrigues – the
mother of Sherwin Lovell – and Chandroutie Dwarka, who is the wife of
Lovell and Gobherdan are the two men who survived the brutal attack.
The other beneficiaries were the relatives of Glenroy Jones, Sunil Ramotar and Vickey Persaud, who are still missing. The attack was described by President David Granger as a “massacre”. A national day of mourning was observed on June 25, 2018, as a solemn memorial to the Guyanese fishermen.