“That was a merciless act he did. My father begged him but instead, he chopped my father’s head off. He did not show my father any mercy, now he wants mercy?”
Imagine losing your daughter or niece in a brutal rape/murder and then those who are responsible for seeing that justice is served are contemplating setting her killer(s) free.
That’s the dilemma facing the relatives of Roshana Kassim, an 18 year old Sheet Anchor, East Canje girl, who was brutally murdered on September 18th, 31 years ago.
Those guilty of murdering her, Shireen Khan, Muntaz Ali and Terrence Sahadeo were condemned to die by hanging, much to the satisfaction of the victim’s family.
But a constitutional challenge led to a lengthy delay in carrying out the sentence and this later resulted on the death penalty being commuted to a life sentence.
One of the condemned, Shireen Khan has since died in prison, but recently, her two co-accused through their Attorneys, have been making moves for them to be released from prison.
In fact, the Parole Board met recently to consider their application for release.
For the family of Roshanna Kassim is maintaining that since the convicted were condemned to hang and they managed to bypass that, they should not even be considered for release but should spend the rest of their lives away from society.
After reading that the Parole Board is considering the convicts’ application to be released, one of the murdered teenager’s bereaved relatives Zalina Deen wrote to this newspaper expressing her opposition to any possible freeing of her niece’s two remaining killers.
“It was brought to Roshana’s family’s attention that her killers are seeking release. Should such a pardon be given, Roshana would have been betrayed. Betrayal is a strong word to use without facts to give its use any substance. It is with tremendous distress that the family of Roshana use this word when it was made known that these vicious individuals are even being considered for release,” Deen wrote.
She is even more worried that the Parole Board might rule in favour of the men, since at the time of their convictions Roshana Kassim’s killers were represented by Khemraj Ramjattan, the current Second Vice President and Minister of Public Security.
The Minister did indicate that he has the final say in such matters, and he will not be bound by the decision of the Parole Board.
“I have the power under the Parole Board Act. I have to grant the licence for their release. But I am not bound by the Board’s recommendations. Who I feel in the public’s interest should not be released, I will not release them,” Minister Ramjattan declared.
The relatives of the murdered woman have been advised to write to the Parole Board, voicing their objections to the convicts’ application for release.
“Betrayal to Roshana is what will occur should her killers be freed if the government turns away from the facts of this brutal rape and murder of a young aspiring girl, a daughter and sister. Those with the power and the capacity to represent the victims of vicious crimes, namely our prosecutors, our Justices, the entire judicial department are the entities that families rely on to have justice served for the loss of their loved ones,” the dead teen’s aunt stated.
Roshana Kassim was a teenager who was violently raped and killed in a robbery at her home.
Her throat was cruelly slit and she was strangled with her beautiful hip-length hair and discarded under a suitcase by her killers.
After Roshana’s death her entire family anguished and grieved in disbelief.
The family was further plunged into greater pain when her father Khalil Kassim, unable to bear the loss of his daughter, died and was soon after followed by the death of her mother.
Roshana’s sister has vowed never to return to Guyana because of the emptiness and memories surrounding her death.
“Her brothers suffer daily torture with the loss and fracture of their family—all due to the malicious, intentional, vulgar, brutal nature of the “convicted killers Muntaz Ali, Terrence Sahadeo and Shireen Khan,” Deen wrote.
“We appeal to the Hon. President Granger not to BETRAY ROSHANA KASSIM and pardon her killers. We appeal to Hon. President Granger to not BETRAY Khalil Kassim in pardoning the killers of his daughter. We appeal on behalf of Roshana’s sister and brothers, cousins and friends for our Hon. President Granger to allow justice to be served for the death of this young defenceless girl and let her killers spend the rest of their natural lives in prison.”
Several relatives of murder victims have been publicly expressing their objections to the consideration of release for convicted killers, who would have already served life sentences after their death penalties were commuted.
The relatives of the victims wanted death for the people who brought death to them. These relatives always say that the system does not take their grief into consideration; that the relatives of the victim must bear their grief alone because they do not have rights.
The relatives of Raphael Seecharran are also objecting to the release of convicted killer Lawrence Chan who has also made an application to the Parole Board.
Seecharran, along with a 15 year old Venezuelan boy were brutally murdered on January 11, 1991 by Chan in the Port Kaituma River, North West District.
Chan who went into hiding after the murder was subsequently captured and later convicted in 1995.
The killing of one of the victims was said to be as cruel as anything could be.
Seecharran’s son John is adamant that Chan should receive no mercy since he showed no mercy to his victims.
“That was a merciless act he did. My father begged him but instead, he (Chan) chopped my father’s head off. He did not show my father any mercy, now he wants mercy?” John Seecharran said.
Any release of death row inmates is bound to spark public controversy, especially if one was to judge from the reaction to former President Donald Ramotar’s pardoning of convicted killer Ravindra Deo, shortly before he was ousted from office.
Then there were voices raised after President David Granger pardoned several persons convicted for “petty crimes”.
It will also raise eyebrows since there have been renewed calls for the death penalty to be reintroduced to combat the increase in violent murders.
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