Army Major, wife, ex-soldier charged with treason
- police say they have recorded evidence implicating accused
By Latoya Giles and Leonard Gildarie
An army major and his wife are among three persons arrested and charged with treason. The charge stemmed from the July 2009 fire at the Ministry of Health. That fire was initially blamed on a gang of gunmen ‘terrorists’.
In custody are Major Bruce Munroe, 36, and his 39-year-old wife, Carol-Ann Munroe, of 31 Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara. Carol-Ann Munroe is said to be the owner of Achievers’ Academy, a private school at Soeskdyke.
Also charged yesterday was the owner of Soesdyke’s La Chalet Country Inn, Leonard ‘Junior’ Wharton, an ex-soldier. Wharton’s wife, Fay, a manager at the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company, was released late yesterday. They had all been arrested on Thursday.
The three will be appearing in court today before Magistrate Priya Beharry to answer the treason charges. This newspaper was told that the police are contending that they have video and audio evidence implicating the trio.
They are being represented by lawyers Gregory Gaskin, Joe Harmon, both former soldiers, and George Thomas.
72 hours in
Relatives of Munroe denied that the army official, well-known in his community, along with his wife, could have been linked to the fire which Government officials have said was done by a gang headed by an overseas “boss”.
According to the relatives yesterday, police had held Munroe and his wife beyond the 72 hours allowed without any charges. However, late yesterday police slapped them with treason charges.
Maj. Munroe’s sister, Gabriella, said that her brother and his wife were detained Thursday night after police raided their Soesdyke home.
“I received a call about 09:30 (21:30hrs) Thursday night that police by the house. I went down.”
However, police prevented the woman from entering for about an hour after her arrival.
“Then this official explained that they are searching the house but refused to say anything else.”
There were heavily armed policemen at the Soesdyke home.
“Finally, around 11, they tell me that I could come in. The entire house tumbled up.”
Police allowed the woman to gather clothes for the Munroe children before they whisked the army man and wife to the Eve Leary headquarters.
According to Ivan Hutson, the brother of Carol-Ann Munroe, he too received a call Thursday night and raced to Soesdyke from his city home.
“This is my only sister and she would never be involved in anything illegal. I will swear on that. She is the head of a school.”
Relatives said that the army major was placed at the Brickdam Police Station while his wife was taken to the East La Penitence Police Station lock-ups.
Kaieteur News was told that police picked up Munroe and Wharton based on an informant’s tape that was made of conversations.
However, Munroe’s relatives questioned this and claimed that the alleged informant once worked with Wharton and was dismissed.
Munroe and Wharton were said to be friends with the former once renting a property from the businessman for their private school at Soesdyke.
Treason is a capital offence that is not bailable. The two last persons to be slapped with treason charges were Mark Benschop and Philip Bynoe.
Benschop has since been released from prison where he spent five years while Bynoe was never brought to court although charged.
Earlier this month, escaped prisoner 22-year-old Colin Jones, was slapped with charges ranging from murder to arson to possession of guns and ammunition to escaping from lawful custody and cultivating cannabis.
Jones reportedly confessed to recently killing two of his accomplices, Kurt Thierens and Adriano Tracey. Jones’s 17-year-old brother Jahfar Simpson, of Lot 30 West Ruimveldt Squatting Area was also slapped with one murder charge, and several other charges, including arson.
Randy Mars, who according to his lawyer is attached to the Guyana Rice Board, was also charged with murder, attempted murder, arson, and possession of guns and ammunition. However, the officials at the Guyana Rice Board are insistent that Mars never worked there.
Linden residents Ulei McQuede and Deon Thompson were charged with knowingly harbouring the wanted men. The five defendants appeared before Magistrate Priya Beharry.
Mars and Simpson were jointly charged with a series of crimes at Loo Creek on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway. It is alleged that the two between November 3 and November 4, 2009, at Loo Creek, duct-taped the face of Roopchand Gopaul, with the intent to murder him. Another charge stated that during the same period at Loo Creek, they duct-taped the face of Shawn Embelton with the same intent.
Another charge stated that at the same location, and period of time, they murdered Woodette Roberts. Jones, now 22, Mars and Simpson are accused of discharging a loaded firearm at police constable Carl Marks with the intent to murder him on November 4, 2009.
It was further alleged that the trio on the same date, with the intent to murder, discharged a loaded firearm at Clayton Westford. Westford along with Keith Ferrier were charged for setting the Ministry of Health building on fire last year.
The trio was also charged with discharging a loaded firearm at police constable Rajendra Singh with the intent to murder him.
The penultimate charge against the trio stated that on November 4, with the intent to murder, they discharged a loaded firearm at detective constable Dharmindra Indrapaul.
The trio was further charged with setting fire to a public building – the Supreme Court of Guyana on November 4, 2009.
Alleged self-confessed killer Colin Jones was further accused of escaping from lawful custody at the Providence Police Lockups on July 27, 2009, pending a criminal matter.
Policewoman Diane Chichester was charged with facilitating Jones’s escape from the lockups last year.
The preliminary inquiry into that matter is still continuing.
All these charges were sparked by the fire that destroyed the Ministry of Health last year July.
Jones’s lawyer, George Thomas, who appeared in association with attorney at law Shawn Allicock, asked for a psychological examination to be carried out on Jones. The lawyer was of the view that Jones was not of sound mind to stand trial for any of the charges against him.
The lawyer, Thomas, has also been retained by one of the treason accused.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force has reportedly asked the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to help track down ex-GDF lieutenant George Lashley and Keith Ferrier, who are said to be key players in the alleged ‘terror’ attacks.
Lashley is believed to be in the United States, while Ferrier, called ‘General’ is also believed to be overseas.
Lashley, the ex-soldier is said to be around 60, and once resided at Lot 187 Freeman Street, East La Penitence.
Police believe that Lashley, Ferrier and Thierens were the brains behind the torching of the Health Ministry buildings, the arson attempt at the Supreme Court, and the attacks on the Brickdam Police Station and the Ruimveldt Police Outpost.