– Jagdeo urges in Suriname meeting with families, fishermen
The condemnation and anger for the horrifying high seas attack in Suriname two Fridays ago that left three Guyanese fishermen dead and 12 missing have unified Government and the Opposition.
Yesterday, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, and former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, would have followed Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, to that neighbouring country.
During a meeting with Guyanese fishermen in Nieuw-Amsterdam, Jagdeo urged both Governments, in Guyana and Suriname, to explore the possibilities of the cruel acts being treated as terrorism.
Ramjattan reportedly met with Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, yesterday to be briefed and is expected to meet security officials today.
With regards to Jagdeo’s visit, the De Ware Tijd newspaper said that from indications, the current anti-piracy legislation does not seem to be effective in practice. In making the point, Jagdeo said he is not in Suriname for political mileage.
Rather, he wants to be informed as fully as possible in order to raise this issue in Guyana’s parliament.
On Friday, his party, the People’s Progressive Party, will submit a motion to the National Assembly to discuss this situation.
“This is an exceptional situation and this should therefore be dealt with differently from the usual legislation,” according to the former president.
He said he will explore with the Guyanese government how affected fishermen and their families can be financially supported.
Meanwhile, it is also being reported that more than three weeks before he was shot, Somnath ‘Paddy’ Manohar, reported to the police that he had been threatened with death.
He had asked for protection.
However, the Guyana-born businessman, who has been living in Suriname for years, and was the owner of several fishing boats, was told that the police force is not a security company.
His lawyer also asked the Attorney General in a letter to have the telephone death threat investigated. Explicit threats had been expressed that Manohar would be shot dead. The person who had expressed the threats was also known.
Two agents from the department of Capital Crimes would only have visited the office of the boat owner.
According to the family there was no follow-up investigation. This is denied by Roberto Prade, head of Capital Crimes.
“In that case, witnesses have been heard but no suspects have come into the picture yet, there are only speculations,” according to the police commander.
On March 30, Manohar was killed after gunmen in a car opened fire on him, while he and workers were repairing his nets at his Munder home.
Manohar case would be important as his brother who lives on the Corentyne, Berbice in Guyana, is being accused of orchestrating the attack on the four fishing boats two Fridays ago, about 40 miles off Paramaribo, near the French Guiana border.
Twenty crewmen were beaten, chopped and thrown overboard. A few of the crewmen had batteries tied to their legs.
Five persons including a captain survived, a few by jumping in the water.
Three bodies have been recovered but the badly decomposed state has forced Surinamese authorities to now starting to take DNA samples from relatives to resort to identification.
Worried Guyanese relatives have journeyed to Suriname.
The Suriname authorities are planning a day of mourning. There was a march held last Friday.
To ensure the safety of fishermen, there has been a suspension of fishing activities.
Several persons have been arrested in both Guyana and Suriname.
Thousands of Guyanese, especially from Berbice, are living in Suriname. The majority of fishermen are Guyanese by birth.
The Coast Guard of Suriname has increased patrols.
The attack two Fridays ago, and another which left a Guyanese captain dead are believed to be linked. They are said to be one of the worst pirate attacks.
President David Granger last week, noting the strides in breaking up the gangs that terrorized fishermen, described the incidents as a massacre and announced a day of mourning.
Suriname authorities are continuing the search.
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