Curacao gold heist suspects could be in custody for a while

-Suriname not interested in probe

The six persons held in Curacao over the spectacular November 30 gold heist may have a long wait before knowing their fate as the Dutch island’s law provides that persons arrested could be held for as long as 56 days and the period extended if the need is justified by law enforcement.

Curacao police spokesperson Reggie Huggins told Stabroek News yesterday by phone that the  six suspects, one from Bonaire, two from Venezuela and the others from Curacao, will remain in the custody of  police for the daring US$11.5M ($2.3 Billion) heist of gold bars. He also stated that a quantity of gold had been confiscated during the operation which led to their arrests.

While Huggins said he did not have any new information on the case and that it was an ongoing investigation he explained that the six can remain in custody for up to 56 days before charges are laid or they are released. If Police show reason why they should be held longer this can also be done, he stated.

A Surinamese police official yesterday also told this newspaper that Suriname was not pursuing investigations into the gold heist. No one has reported to police there that their shipment of gold  was stolen and their police said that this would have happened the “very instant that gold was robbed”. With a Guyanese crew on board the Guyanese boat that was robbed in Curacao on November 30, the signs continue to point in the direction that the precious metal was smuggled from here and the pressure is mounting on the government to take action.

An official of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission told Stabroek News yesterday that the report of the two officials that visited Curacao is not yet completed. In addition to waiting on that report, both the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee and Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud have said  that they are awaiting documents from Curacao to ascertain Guyana’s potential link, but so far no information has been forthcoming. “We are starting from the assumption that there is something to work through. We first have to get the documentation to establish that and that is what we want to establish, and that was what the team (from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission) was there to pursue. ‘Show me all the paperwork you have and let us see whether or not there is something that concerns Guyana and what we need to do.’ And that is what we want to ascertain,” Persaud had said.

It is unclear what documents the government expects to get from Curacao. Authorities on the island are mostly interested in the robbery in its waters.

Government is yet to answer why local enforcement has not yet interviewed the Guyanese crew of the boat. Crew members have been spoken to by the Curacao authorities and at least one was reported to have told the media that this was not the first time they have made this sort of trip to Curacao. They are said to have expressed fears for their safety because the exporter of the gold would be at risk of exposure. Police Commissioner Leroy Brumell has confirmed that the vessel `Summer Bliss’ was known to have been here in June last year.

Alliance For Change Leader Khemraj Ramjattan has accused the government of not saying all it knows about the Curacao heist.  He told Stabroek News that he was not accepting that enough was being done to learn the truth and that there was a legitimate wait on documentation to ascertain the gold source.
Yesterday, Huggins told Stabroek News that the vessel remains docked on the island but he did not know anything about the crew. Early in the investigation he had told Stabroek News that the crewmen had been ruled out as suspects and were free to leave the island at any time of their choice. (Marcelle Thomas)

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