…over robbing fishing vessels in 2015, 2016
By Feona Morrison
A suspect in the recent deadly pirate attack on 20 Guyanese fishermen in Suriname was yesterday charged and remanded for allegedly robbing two fishing vessels – one in 2015 and the other in 2016.
Nakool Manohar, called ‘Fyah’, 39, of Number 43 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. He was not required to plead to the indictable charges of robbery under-arms that were filed under Section Three of the Hijacking and Piracy Act Chapter 10:08.
Particulars of the first charge against him alleged that between April 1 and April 30, 2015, in the territorial waters of Guyana in the Corentyne Magisterial District, while in the company of others and armed with guns and cutlasses, he robbed fishing vessel ‘Sir Navin. A 248 horsepower engine valued at $2.8M was stolen, property of Daneshwar Reddy called ‘Smallie’.
It was further alleged that between August 1 and August 30, 2016, in the territorial waters of Guyana in the Corentyne Magisterial District, while in the company of others and armed with guns and cutlasses, he robbed fishing vessel ‘Captain Vickesh’ owned by Vickesh Balkissoon. The fishing vessel is valued at $2.3M.
On Friday April 27, several pirates attacked four fishing boats, tying up crewmen, chopping a few of them and ordering others to transfer their catch. One man reportedly witnessed his captain being trussed up and weighted with a battery and dumped overboard. Another saw his colleague’s arm being chopped off.
Five men survived by jumping overboard and swimming away. Days later another fishing boat was attacked with the captain, a Guyanese, being killed and crewmen dumped overboard.
Some 12 fishermen, all Guyanese, are still missing after the deadly attack that took place between the Suriname and French Guiana borders.
Nakool Manohar was arrested on May 2, and was kept in custody up until his arraignment before the Chief Magistrate after police filed a Habeas corpus in the High Court and were granted extension in time to detain the suspect.
Law enforcement here and in Suriname are said to be treating the pirate attack as a reprisal crime for the murder of Nakool Manohar’s brother, Somnauth, who was killed during a drive-by shooting in Suriname on Good Friday.
Like his brother who had residence in Suriname, Nakool Manohar is the owner of several fishing boats.
During yesterday’s court hearing, Police Inspector Gordon Mansfield, a Prosecutor attached to the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), dismissed defence counsel Joel Edmond’s submission that Nakool Manohar was a fit candidate for bail ahead of trial. Prosecutor Mansfield objected to bail on the basis that Manohar is the subject matter in an ongoing investigation as it relates to the pirate attack, which according to the prosecutor, left five fisherman dead. Persons gave statements to the police implicating Manohar in the armed robberies, the prosecutor stated.
Advancing that the pirate attack almost resulted in the death of others, the prosecutor cited the seriousness nature of the offences and the fact that firearms were allegedly used while the crimes were being committed. Emphasizing the magnitude of the ongoing investigation into the pirate attack, the prosecutor said that a High Court judge saw it fit to grant not one, but three extensions to the police to further detain Manohar.
On the other hand, Edmond maintained that his client is an ideal candidate for bail, because he has been fully cooperating with police investigations. Noting the dates these alleged offences were committed, Edmond submitted to the court that his client had time to abscond, but instead, chose to remain in the country.
Responding to the prosecutor’s disclosure of an ongoing investigation, defence counsel argued that police arrested his client based on mere allegations of a crime (the pirate attack) which did not occur within the jurisdiction of Guyana.
Edmond said, “Because of heavy pressure on the police, I wish to submit that these charges were concocted,” adding that the ongoing investigation is no reason to deny his client pre-trial liberty. Petitioning for bail in a substantial amount, the lawyer told the court that his client is willing to lodge his passport and comply with any conditions that may be attached to bail by the court.
The court further heard from Edmond that Manohar, who is the sole breadwinner for his family, has no pending matters or previous convictions. The lawyer made it clear that his client does not go at sea, since he is not a fisherman. For the court’s consideration, the lawyer further submitted that his client suffers from hypertension and diabetes.
The Chief Magistrate however upheld the prosecution’s objections and remanded Manohar to prison citing the seriousness of the crime and the outcome of the ongoing investigation. He will make his next court appearance on May 30 at the Springlands Magistrate’s Court.
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