Young men upset over police detention in Berbice

Three young men are questioning their detention at the New Amsterdam Police Station on Sunday night and are calling on the law men who rudely took them out of their beds and forcing them to sleep on cold concrete barely clothed in their underwear to provide answers.

It was some time after midday yesterday that Oriel Lindie, 19, Lindel Hinds, 25, and Azel Grimond were released from police custody after being taken off a boat at a Berbice stelling around 10:30 on Sunday night.

The men, who reside at De Veldt in the Berbice River, are employees on the grocery boat, Red Rose, which operates on the sections of the Berbice River. They were left to protect the boat by its owner, Richard Lepps.

“We sleeping in we hammock and next thing we know is dem man jump in de boat and start searching up and tell we how we wanted at the station,” Hinds told Stabroek News yesterday hours after they were released.

The young man said they immediately jumped out of their hammocks as the police men–about eight in number–were armed and they were afraid.
“Dem put we to lie down on the stelling with we hand behind we back like iguanas,” he further said.

After the police searched the boat they told the men, who were dressed only in their underpants with no shoes on their feet, to walk to the road. It was at that point, Hinds said, that he informed the officers that the boat was being left unprotected. “One a dem turn and tell me if I don’t shut me mouth he guh shoot me,” he said.
The police later placed the men in the back of their vehicle and drove them to the New Amsterdam Police Station where they were placed to lie on the floor before being transferred to the lock- ups.

It was around 10 am yesterday that the three were taken back to the station and asked a few questions.
The young men said they were questioned about the murder of 26-year-old logger Cleveland Hetemeyer which took place two Thursdays ago in the Canje River, several miles away from De Veldt.

“Dem ask we if we know Bragga and Esmond but we tell dem we don’t know anybody with dem names,” Lindie told this newspaper.
It is believed that two men bearing those names were behind the murder of Hetemeyer, which was witnessed by three men and two children.
After they denied knowing the men, the police then preceded to finger print them and take photographs of them. The young men questioned why this was done since they have committed no crime and pointed out that it is unfair for police to have them on record, when they did nothing to warrant it.
They queried whether it would now be difficult for them to get a police clearance or other documentation.

After being finger printed and photographed the men were then taken back to the station and later released at around 1:30 yesterday afternoon. They were not placed on bail or told return to the station.

Upon their return to the boat, Lindie said, he discovered $10,000 was missing from the pocket of a pair of pants he had in the boat. It was not clear if anything else was missing since the owner of the boat has not done an inventory.

Meanwhile, Captain of De Veldt Laxley Lindie told Stabroek News that he was very concerned over the treatment meted out to the three young men.
Lindie received a call about their arrest and immediately travelled to New Amsterdam. When he visited the station he was told that the men were being held in an “ongoing investigation”. He revealed that after the murder of Hetemeyer the three men who witnessed it trekked miles in the jungle to De Veldt. Lindie, who is the uncle of one of the young men, said it was he who took the men to the phone booth to contact the police.
According to Lindie, he saw two of the policemen who had travelled to De Veldt following the report of the murder but they were unable to give any information about why the men were arrested.

“They can’t just arrest people like that for nothing and not telling anyone why they were arrested. And then the man’s boat was left unprotected, I am very concerned and worried about this,” Lindie said.

He said the young men were given nothing to eat during the hours at the station.
When contacted Commander of B Division Steve Merai told Stabroek News that the three men were arrested for questioning about the murder but they were released.