Heavy security as Bartica massacre accused taken to court

An indictment for 12 counts of murder is expected to be read tomorrow morning to the five men accused of the massacre of a dozen people, including three police officers, at Bartica in 2008.

The matter which is before Justice Roxane George at the High Court in Georgetown, is scheduled to commence at 9 with the empanelment of a jury, after which the trial is set to begin.

A number of pretrial legal and administrative matters, which have to be taken care of, delayed the case from commencing yesterday as was previously announced by the court.

Mark Royden Williams called ‘Durant Williams,’ Dennis Williams called ‘Anaconda,’ Clebert Reece called ‘Chi Chi,’ Michael Caesar and Roger Simon were committed to stand trial back in 2011 for the murders of nine civilians and three policemen, which were carried out on February 17, 2008 in Bartica.

Additionally, the quintet was also arraigned with one count of terrorism, one count of unlawful wounding and three counts of break and enter and larceny. The trial into these charges will be conducted subsequent to the murder trial.

Clebert Reece
Clebert Reece
Roger Simon
Roger Simon

Defence attorneys Peter Hugh, Maxwell McKay, Saphier Hussain, Madan Kissoon and Roger Yearwood will be representing Simon, Caesar, Dennis Williams, Reece and Mark Williams respectively.

Meanwhile, the prosecution will be led by state counsel Diana Kaulesar in association with attorneys Narissa Leander and Tuanna Hardy.

The trial which is expected to run until the end of next month, will see just under 40 witnesses taking the stand.

The prisoners were taken to court for yesterday morning’s hearing in a prison van sounding its sirens through the streets with police escorts in tow. They arrived fully handcuffed and shackled under heightened security. A barrage of heavily-armed police officers stood guard in the courtroom, on the corridors, around the court complex and at the entrances to the compound.

The charges against the quintet stem from an hour-long attack at Bartica on the night of February 17, which was reportedly carried out by some 20 gunmen.

Dennis Williams
Dennis Williams

The gunmen had attacked the police station first, killing the three policemen and freeing prisoners. They then took the vehicle assigned to the police station and went on a rampage, terrorising the community and murdering the nine others. According to reports, the gunmen arrived in the area by boat and departed in similar fashion, taking with them firearms they had grabbed from the police station and from a mining company.

Those who lost their lives were Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Consta-bles Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne, who were stationed at the Bartica Police Station; Bartica residents Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian and Irving Ferreira; Deonarine Singh of Wakenaam; Ronald Gomes of Kuru Kururu; Ashraf Khan of Middlesex, Essequibo; Abdool Yasseen; Errol Thomas of Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo; and Baldeo Singh of Montrose, East Coast Demerara.

The attack on the Bartica community came amidst heightened security across the country following the slaughter of 11 people at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara three weeks earlier.

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