Fishermen from the No 66 Fish Port Complex on the Corentyne continue to suffer at the hands of pirates even after a crew from the fisheries had been arrested for robbing fellow fishers.
Three boat owners: Deonarine Harripersaud of No 55 Village, Roypen Mootain of Lancaster and Tameshwar Jainarine of No 79 Village were robbed in separate attacks of millions of dollars during last week in Suriname waters.
The masked pirates who were armed with guns, cutlasses and pieces of wood pounced on the crew members and relieved them of a quantity of fish and fish glue, gasoline and other items.
The water bandits also cut their seines and damaged their engines before escaping. The fishers were left to drift until they were rescued by passing fishermen.
Sources told Stabroek News that while Harripersaud and Mootain have not made any reports, Jainarine has “made a report in Suriname and the police there are taking actions.”
It is suspected that other fishermen from No 43 Village are responsible for the attack.
Meanwhile, the fishermen from the No 66 complex who had attacked and robbed a captain and crew members of the same fish complex on February 17 will not face charges.
That decision was based on advice from the Direc-tor of Public Prosecutions (DPP) following the completion of the investigations.
A police source told this newspaper that even though the men have admitted to committing the crime, the DPP advised not to charge because of a signed agreement between the victim, Sharmila Khelai and the owner of the pirate boat, Ahilia Alfred.
The matter was also settled with their Surinamese “counterpart” that they are licensed with.
As a result, no report was made in that country.
The source said that had they proceeded with charges at the end of the investigations, “no one would have come forward to give evidence.”
He said too that if the victim decides to continue the matter, the “only thing is to revoke the document,” which was signed by a Justice of Peace from the Corentyne.
Khelai told Stabroek News that a settlement of $700,000 was initially offered to her as that amount would have compensated her for the losses she suffered.
But she decided against accepting the money upon the advice of other fishers and because of piracy being a serious offence and the implications involved.
According to her, chairman of the complex, Pravinchandra Deodat had instructed her to report the matter and she accompanied her husband and workers to the No 51 Police Station and she gave a statement.
The following morning she heard that the crew from the pirate boat and Alfred were in Paramaribo and she and her husband and workers decided to go across.
When she got there, Khelai said that Alfred “started to cry and beg me to drop the matter and said she would repay our expenses. They still had all the fish and I told her to sell them so she can get money…”
She told this newspaper that the following day when Alfred’s crew arrived at the fisheries the police took them into custody.
Khelai had told Stabroek News that she was forced to incur $300,000 in expenses to refuel and restock her boat to send it out to sea again.
When Stabroek News spoke to Alfred, she responded that she did not have anything to say because they “already sift out we story in Suriname.”
She said too that she sent out her crew members to work and was not aware of what they do out at sea.
Reports are that the rival crew in a vessel approach-ed Khelai’s boat and questioned her workers about their catch. Her unsuspecting crew responded that they caught “35 huge snapper, one big gill-baker, valued $50,000, fish glue and cuirass,” amounting to almost $460,000.
Around 7 pm the unmasked men returned to the boat and looted the catch, as well as a “cross bar,” valued $18,000, engine lead worth $14,500 as well as a battery that cost about $29,000.
This newspaper learnt that the victims returned from sea thinking they would see the alleged pirates trying to sell the fish. Instead, they met with Alfred’s son-in-law, who is an executive member of the co-op and related what happened to him.
According to Deodat, “her (Alfred’s) membership has been suspended and it has to go to the general membership for a vote to have her expelled. Her workers got a life-ban from entering the complex.”
He related that the membership of all the persons accused of being involved in piracy had been suspended and they had been “banned from working on fishing boats attached to the complex and from entering the compound.”
According to him, “We set a protocol and stand up for the right thing. I believe that every fisherman should go out there and make a decent living. Pirates cannot go and demand what belongs to other hardworking fishermen.”