Three Berbice bodies identified

The three decomposed bodies found in Berbice were positively identified yesterday by relatives as those of fishermen missing from Annandale North since last month. Rameshwar Gangadin, 24, Patrick Parboo, 20, and Mark Sylvester Parshram, were among six fisherman who had gone to sea in mid-October, and had never returned.

Rameshwar Gangadin, his brother Navendra Gangadin, Patrick Parboo, his cousin Davendra Persaud, Christopher Rooplall and Mark Sylvester Parshram left on a fishing trip on October 12 and were never seen or heard from again. This began to worry relatives who said that the fishermen would normally not stay longer than 18 days at sea.

Fearing their loved ones had been the victims of pirates the families met with Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud last Wednesday and requested surveillance assistance. On Thursday the relatives of the missing men in the company of two Coast Guard ranks conducted an aerial search some 25 miles up the Corentyne River and along some sections of the Demerara River. However, after being informed that there were two bodies waiting to be identified at a mortuary in Berbice, relatives eventually decided to check yesterday.

The decomposed bodies of two men with their hands and feet bound were found two weeks ago in the Corentyne area. Relatives said they paid no attention at first to reports in the media about the bodies since the speculation was that the men might have been foreigners. On Thursday news circulated in the area that the police had made yet another gruesome discovery at the Whim foreshore where a third badly decomposed body had been found. Hoping that their worst fears would not be confirmed, relatives of the missing men then decided to visit the area to view the remains.

According to a relative of one of the men, Adydia Chatterpaul, all three were identified by their clothing. However one of the men, Mark Parshram, was identified by his clothing and a burn he had on his left side. Chatterpaul told Stabroek News that Parshram’s body had been identified at the Whim foreshore where it had washed up on Thursday, and after identification the body had to be buried at the same location. However relatives were not able to view the bodies of the other two men, Rameshwar Gangadin and Patrick Parboo since they had been buried at a cemetery in Stanleytown on Thursday. The men were nevertheless identified after the police showed relatives the clothes that had been taken from the men’s remains. A police source told this newspaper that if relatives still wanted to confirm that the remains were those of their loved ones, hair samples had been taken and as such DNA testing could be done at a later stage.

Meanwhile relatives said that they would like to have the remains of their relatives so they could be given decent burials. Arrangements for this will be made shortly, the relatives said.

When Stabroek News visited the area yesterday dozens of residents had gathered at the grieving relatives’ home offering support. One resident was heard to say that none of the fishermen deserved the deaths they had received and all were young men working to support their siblings and families. Residents said the community which mainly depended on fishing for a livelihood had suffered from attacks by pirates in the past, but not to this extent.

On Wednesday last Minister Persaud met with relatives of the missing crew members and informed them that a meeting with the Ministry of Home Affairs would be arranged to discuss assistance. The Minister yesterday afternoon went back to the community to meet with the relatives.

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