… implicates Fine Man, prison officer
The men accused of murdering 12 people in Bartica on February 17, 2008, were yesterday committed to stand trial in the High Court, after Magistrate Fazil Azeez found that a prima facie case was made out against them.
Charged with the murders were Mark Royden Roberts, called ‘Durant Williams’; Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’; Clebert Reece called ‘Chi-chi’; Michael Caesar and Roger Simon.
The five were accused of killing Edwin Gilkes, Irving Ferreira, Ronald Gomes, Baldeo Singh, Dexter Adrian, Deonarine Singh, Abdool Yassin, Ashraf Khan, and Errol Thomas and three police officers, Ron Osborne, Zaheer Zakir and Shane Fredericks at Bartica.
At yesterday’s hearing, Magistrate Azeez before committing the five men, told the court that there were two false starts into the preliminary inquiry because of the difficulty in transporting the men.
After they encountered that problem it was decided that the matters would be heard in Georgetown. The witnesses were brought to Georgetown to testify. In all, the magistrate said that a total of 37 witnesses, including civilians, were called to give evidence.
The magistrate commended the fact that the matter was concluded in less than ten months. The matter was prosecuted by Special Prosecutor K. Juman Yassin.
Attorneys at law Hukumchand and Sonia Parag, had appeared for Celbert Reece initially, but were not present yesterday.
Attorney at law Roger Yearwood had appeared for Royden Williams. He too was not present yesterday in court. The only attorney who was present yesterday in court was Peter Hugh. He represented Roger Simon.
On March 16, the magistrate was contacted by the lawyers who said that they declined to make no case submissions.
Azeez said that after looking at all the evidence presented in court, a “prima facie” case had been established. At this point the magistrate began to ask each accused if they wished to say anything.
Mark Williams said that he didn’t want to say anything, and he reserved his defence for the High Court.
The number two accused, Celbert Reece, said that he wanted to take the witness box and give sworn evidence.
Dennis Williams and Michael Caesar refused to say anything. Roger Simon, the last defendant said that he was innocent of the charges against him.
Thereafter the defendants were asked to sign the committal form. Dennis Williams, Mark Royden Williams and Michael Ceasar refused. At this point the magistrate stated that even if they didn’t sign the form, it would not prevent the case from going to the High Court.
Roger Simon was the only one yesterday that signed the form. After the procedural aspect of the committal Reece took to the witness box. Clad in a striped blue shirt and blue denim jeans, Reece began telling the court a story about a year prior to the massacre at Bartica.
He implicated the now dead Rondell “Fine Man” Rawlins, Otis Mud up” Fyffee, Cecil Ramcharran “Uncle Willie” and Robin “Chung Boy” Chung.
Reece also implicated Dennis Williams, Michael Caesar, and Mark Royden Williams. No mention was made of Roger Simon.
Around 16:00hrs the matter was adjourned for continuation on April 6, where it is expected that Reece would continue giving evidence.
On the night of February 17 at approximately 9.40 pm, some 20 gunmen attacked Bartica, slaughtering one dozen people, including three policemen, during an hour-long strafing.
It was reported that the gunmen attacked the police station first, killing three policemen and freeing prisoners. They then took the vehicle assigned to the police station and went on a rampage, terrorising the community and murdering nine others. According to reports, the gunmen arrived in the area by boat and departed in similar fashion taking with them firearms they had grabbed from the police station and from a mining company.
Roger Simon, a 44-year-old miner and father of nine who is a resident of the community, was the first person charged with the 12 murders.
He first appeared at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court on April 9 and then later at the Bartica Magistrate’s Court on May 14.
Clebert Reece, called ‘Chi-chi’ of Lot 63 Barr Street, Albouystown, a 30-year-old miner who works in the Cuyuni area, was the second person charged but he made no statement to the court when he appeared before Magistrate Melissa Robertson on May 28.
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