Jaiwantie Singh gave a detailed testimony of how persons stormed her home at First Avenue Bartica, kicking down doors and firing gunshots during the 2008 Bartica massacre, in which a dozen persons were killed.
State Prosecutors, Diana Kaulesar and Simone Giddings, called the witness to testify yesterday, when the trial continued before Justice Roxanne George at the High Court in Georgetown.
The state is prosecuting Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’; Mark Royden Williams, called ‘Durant’; and Anthony Simon, called ‘Goat Man’ for 12 counts of murder.
This is as a result of co accused Michael Caesar, called ‘Capone’; and Clebert Reece pleading guilty to 12 counts of manslaughter earlier this week.
The guilty pleas by Caesar and Simon resulted from bargains they struck with the state. Both of them will be sentenced on December 16.
On Tuesday, 12 murder indictments were read to Dennis Williams, Mark Williams and Anthony Simon. The accused denied the allegations.
Mark Royden Williams, Anthony Simon and Dennis Williams are being represented by Attorneys Roger Yearwood, Peter Hugh and Saphier Hussein respectively.
During her testimony, Singh informed the court that at the time of the attack she operated a grocery store, parlour and gold trading at the lower flat of her two-storey home. She stated that she, her husband and three children (two boys and a girl) resided at the top flat.
Guided by the prosecution, Singh recalled that she and her family were engrossed in a 20/20 cricket match around 21:00 hrs, at the top flat of the building on the day in question.
During her viewing of the game, the witness said that she became startled by loud sounds which she presumed were gunshots. She said that she hurried down stairs and told her son what she heard. As a result of what Singh related to her son, she said her son peeked through a window and told her something.
A while after, the witness told the court that she heard voices followed by continuous knocking and banging on a grill door downstairs.
Singh, who appeared calm during her testimony, said that persons began pounding on the walls outside her home. She said they then broke down the door and stormed inside.
According to Singh, she and her daughter hid in the same bedroom; while her husband and son sought refuge in another part of their home.
Singh also remembered the intruders firing gunshots and hurling expletives. She recounted that the persons began pulling out drawers and attempting to break down the door to the room she was hiding in.
Singh stated that one of the persons requested a torch light from another but cancelled the request after finding a quantity of (gold) concealed in a bag in that same room.
The witness said that she remained in hiding for about 45 minutes during which she heard footsteps descending down a stairway in her home.
Under cross examination by Attorney Hussein, Singh admitted that she did not see the persons that attacked her home that day. She told Attorney Yearwood that police visited her home some time after the incident and returned the following day.
The trial began on Wednesday with the commencement of a Voir Dire (trial within a trial) to inquire into the circumstance under which an alleged caution statement was given by Dennis Williams.
After Singh’s testimony, the court resumed the Voir Dire calling two witnesses to the stand.
This matter continues today.
The stage was set for the Bartica Massacre trial last month.
However, a constitutional move to have the matter tried outside the Essequibo district stalled the start.
A Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into this matter was heard in the Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Fazil Azeez. A total of 37 witnesses including police ranks and civilians were called to testify.
According to reports, on the night of February 17, 2008, several gunmen attacked Bartica, slaughtering a dozen people, including three police officers, during an hour-long attack. It was reported that the armed men attacked the police station before killing three policemen and freeing prisoners.
They then left with the vehicle assigned to the police station and went on a rampage, terrorizing the community. According to reports, the gunmen arrived in the area by boat and departed in a similar fashion taking firearms they grabbed from the police station and a mining company.
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