-tougher Suriname border crossing, fishing regulations coming
More than a week after a deadly pirate rampage on Suriname waters that left 12 Guyanese fishermen missing and three dead, authorities in both country believe that they have a clearer idea what transpired.
The pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place with two men believed to be part of the gang of attackers, captured in Suriname.
Yesterday, security officials in Guyana, including Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, and Police Commissioner (ag), David Ramnarine, who hosted a press conference on the Friday, April 27, 2018 attack, indicated that a total of 15 persons remain in police custody in Suriname.
Among them are ‘Crack Head’ and ‘Dick’ and a close family member of Somnath Manohar.
Manohar, a Guyanese who is living in Suriname and the owner of several fishing boats there, was killed at the end of March, following the death of a fisherman.
The drive-by shooting of Manohar was said to be an ongoing battle for control of fishing grounds by mainly Guyanese fishermen who operate in Suriname.
Following the death of Manohar, it was believed that a revenge plan was hatched by fishermen who worked with him.
Police in Guyana last week picked up Manohar’s brother, Nakool Manohar, from Corentyne, Berbice who is said to have knowledge and played a role in engineering the April 27 attack.
He and two others are in custody in Guyana for the attack.
Yesterday, both Ramjattan and Ramnarine were tightlipped on investigations only admitting that it is continuing and that the attack stemmed from the killing of the Suriname-based boat owner.
The missing fishermen were said to be living in both Guyana and Suriname.
On Sunday, amidst deep worry from relatives who were looking for answers from their loved ones and who journeyed to Suriname, a team led by Minister Ramjattan and including senior cops, Wayne Dehearte, Brian Eastman, and Detective Michael Kingston, went to that neighbouring country to meet them and liaise with authorities.
They met with about 25 relatives. Also there was Guyana’s ambassador to Suriname, Keith George.
Ramjattan said that the meeting was highly emotional with complaints filed and issues of assistance raised. Testifying about his experience was one of four survivors, who detailed his experience.
On Monday, the Guyana team met Suriname’s ministers of justice, defense and agriculture. Also there was the Police Commissioner, Anthony Chin, where they were briefed.
It was made clear that the current situation of fishing will see more regulations with checkpoints established and more demands for identification of fishermen.
Ramjattan said that the attack would have been a hard blow for Guyana especially in the anti-piracy fight and the strides that have been made.
With regards to bodies recovered, Ramjattan said he will be liaising with relatives as the Suriname authorities are targeting DNA to identify the bodies. This is to ensure no embarrassing release of bodies to the wrong family.
According to Ramnarine, authorities in Guyana were talking to those in Suriname immediately after news broke of the attack.
Investigators were able to identify one man who reportedly played a key role in coordinating the attack who was present at a certain location before the fishermen had left for sea.
Investigators were able to acquire “certain conversation”.
Four survivors were also able to provide information with names of the attackers who were unmasked, the Top Cop said.
The officials yesterday said that there are options that can happen that could see the suspects being held here being sent to Suriname to face charges.
According to Ramjattan, Guyana is currently not examining the terrorism-related charges, noting that it appeared to be clear murder.
Ramnarine said that current anti-piracy laws here could allow for Guyana to charge someone although the crime was committed out of the jurisdiction.
Ramjattan also said that he will be pursuing reports that Suriname has been deporting Guyanese despite assurances that persons who can prove they have been there for years, will remain.
It was reported this week that authorities picked up several persons, in the investigation of the attack, deporting a number of them who could not immediately produce documents.
The issue is being seen as touchy as for years Guyana has been travelling there without any pressure over the years.
Ramjattan acknowledged that it will take resources to improve monitoring at the border but warned that fishermen will have to take actions to place trackers and better communication on their boats.
The Friday April 27 attack has been described as one of the worst with Guyana saying it is a massacre.
It is reported that the attackers surprised four fishing boats, tying up crewmen, chopping a few of them and ordering them to transfer their catch.
One man witnessed his captain being trussed up and weighed with a battery and dumped overboard. Another saw his colleague’s arm being chopped off.
Five men survived by jumping overboard and swimming away.
The Suriname authorities ordered the closure of fishing activities there amid safety worry but green-lighted the reopening this week.
Reports suggest that there will be increased patrols by coastguards of both countries.
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