May 08, 2018 News
PARAMARIBO – Police authorities here confirmed yesterday that they have detained 13 suspects in the ongoing investigation into the recent armed attacks on several fishing boats offshore Suriname.
At a press conference together with Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, Suriname’s Minister of Justice and Police, Stuart Getrouw, said that over the past couple of days, 30 individuals have been brought in for questioning.
Several individuals were captured by fishermen but many of the suspects, all Guyanese fishermen, were arrested over the weekend at several locations by police, Coast Guard and the Bureau for National Security (BNV).
Minister Getrouw noted that there is no clear picture yet as to what really transpired two Fridays ago and if it was just a common act of piracy or something else. Authorities are also trying to figure out if on that fateful day there were indeed 20 fishermen at sea who came under attack.
While the 13 suspects are now being questioned about their possible involvement in the recent attacks, several other individuals who were also arrested without proper immigration status were deported to Guyana.
Among the detainees who are assisting with the inquiries is the son of Somnath Manohar, a Guyana-born fishing boat owner who was gunned down in March in front of his home in Paramaribo, during a drive-by shooting.
Sources have indicated that the murder of Manohar sparked the violent attacks on Friday, April 27th, as part of an ongoing dispute between Guyanese fishermen in Suriname. Relatives of Manohar reportedly vowed to avenge his death.
In Guyana, his brother, also a well-known fisherman, was arrested at his Corentyne, Berbice, home last week,
Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Suriname has issued a contact ban so that the detainees, who are said to be mainly Guyanese living there, have no contact with the outside world or their lawyers.
This is being done because the investigation is still in its early stages. The restriction can legally last a maximum of 14 days.
In the attacks two Fridays ago, it is said that 20 fishermen, including one Surinamese, were victims of the assault. So far, three bodies have been recovered and five men have survived the incident.
On Saturday, the Surinamese Minister of Defence announced that the marine wing of the Surinamese National Army will deploy gun boats to patrol the coastal waters more frequently.
Minister Ronni Benschop also said that choppers will assist during these operations. Since the attacks, most boat owners recalled their vessels back to the dock until the sea is “safe again to venture back out there”.
It was reported that the Government-ordered suspension of fishing activities in Suriname will be lifted this week, with fishermen assured to go back to work.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, was scheduled to return from Suriname last evening. He travelled to that country on Saturday to assess the situation.
He met with fisherfolk yesterday, mainly Guyanese, and Suriname authorities.
Accompanying him were several senior security officials. With him also was Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, who has been meeting with families of the affected and missing fishermen.
(Ivan Cairo from Suriname helped contribute to this story)
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