Suriname police believed 2007 piracy case was insurance fraud – US cable

Suriname police believed that a 2007 piracy case involving three Suriname boats in waters near Guyana was more likely a case of insurance fraud, according to a WikiLeaks cable.

Then US Ambassador to Suriname, Lisa Bobbie Schreiber Hughes, related to Washington on August 23, 2007 that the co-owner of three Surinamese fishing boats had told police on August 18-19, 2007 that his boats were hijacked off the coast while fishing in Surinamese waters near Nickerie and Guyana.

The co-owner had reported thatsome boat equipment was stolen, some destroyed (including one or more of the boats themselves), and some (including empty fuel tanks) was dumped into the sea. The co-owner also related that his crew was left behind, and came ashore three days later in Guyanese territory. The US Ambassador said how they were supposed to have reached land was among many details of the co-owner’s story which remained unclear.

She related that Assistant Inspector Iwan Jabini of the Nickerie police had told the US Embassy that he doubted the co-owner’s report, and suspected insurance fraud.

“The Surinamese Navy patrolled the area and found no debris, no empty fuel tanks, and no other signs of the supposed hijacking. Furthermore, the pirates supposedly did not take crew members’ money, or the third of three valuable motors.

In addition, the police have questions about …the (other) co-owner, who they say has repeatedly been involved in smuggling between Suriname and Guyana, and suspect that (the co-owner who lodged the complaint) coached the crew members for their questioning by police,” the US envoy related.

She further said that while this particular case raised questions, complaints of piracy were not uncommon along the Surinamese coast and said four or five incidents of supposed piracy attributed to Guyanese pirates were logged in 2006, and the latest incident was the second of 2007. She said stolen goods are usually sold in either Guyana or Venezuela. Nickerie Chief of Police

Kenneth Bruining told the press, according to the ambassador, that pirates were difficult to catch, as they are constantly switching boats for use in attacking targets.

The envoy offered this comment to Washington: “The Surinamese border with Guyana essentially remains open—as does the coast, and the border with French Guiana. Fraudsters, pirates, smugglers, and traffickers all have nearly free reign to commit whatever crimes they may choose along the riverine and ocean borders of Suriname—and to bring the fruits of those crimes ashore.

Meanwhile, the Nickerie police are much more likely to catch perpetrators of fraud than of piracy, as without proper boats or equipment it is impossible to pursue pirates. As is usual, in this case the police asked the Surinamese military for help. The military, sometimes so resource-poor that it cannot afford boat fuel, is little help.  Suriname’s coasts are wide open for crime.”

Piracy continues to be a serious problem for both Guyanese and Surinamese fishermen and in recent years there has been an escalation of attacks.

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