Policeman recounts surviving Bartica massacre

Police Corporal, Osmund Paul, who survived the 2008 deadly attack at Bartica, in which 12 persons were killed, including three of his colleagues, yesterday recounted the incident to Justice Roxane George SC and a jury.

Paul was at the time testifying at the trial of Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda,’ Mark Royden Williams, called ‘Smallie’ and Roger Simon, called ‘Goat Man,’ who have been indicted for the massacre of the 12.  

Mark Royden Williams

The charge against the trio is that on February 17, 2008, they murdered Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne, Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Irving Ferreira, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasseen, Errol Thomas, and Baldeo Singh.

Corporal Paul, who was then attached to the Bartica Police Station, recalled watching a cricket match in the barrack room in the company of Zakir, Fredericks and other ranks, on the night in question.

He told the court that it was sometime after 9:40 pm that night, that he suddenly started hearing loud explosions, which he suspected to be gunshots.

Paul said he then heard someone say, “Hit the floor, take cover.”

The witness said he lay flat on his tummy and crawled to the kitchen area; before hiding under a bed which was in the dining room.

Dennis Williams

From there, he said he saw two persons standing in front of the kitchen door, dressed in camouflage and carrying long guns.

The Corporal noted he could not recognize their faces. He said he heard what sounded like gunshots, which lasted for about a minute, after which the two persons left.

According to Paul, it was at this point that he got up and ran to the inspectors’ quarters. There, he said he met Inspector Sutton in his room and immediately went under the bed on his orders.

While in the room, the witness said he heard the distinct sound of the police Land Rover driving off, returning some ten minutes later, heading in the direction of the stelling. Paul said this time, he heard additional suspected gunshots coming from the stelling which lasted about three minutes.

Paul told the court that after the sounds had stopped, he ran out of the building, using the back stairway, heading for the back gate. There, he said he saw Constable Osbourne in a crouching position holding on to the gate, with suspected blood oozing from his motionless body.

Roger Simon

This sight, the witness said, caused him to run back into the building, in the kitchen area where he saw Constable Fredericks, lying face down, with what appeared to be blood, also oozing from his motionless body.

Paul said he then discovered Zakir’s lifeless body in a sitting position behind a cupboard. He told the court that his colleague, had suspected blood oozing from the left side of his head.  After making these discoveries, the witness said that he ran out of the building.

Asked under cross-examination by attorney Roger Yearwood, whether the kitchen and dining room had lights, the witness said they did not.  Counsel then asked if those areas were totally dark, to which the witness again answered in the negative.

Paul said that there was light coming from the barrack room. However, he agreed with counsel that, that light would have had to shine through the dining room into the kitchen.

Asked if, from where he was under the bed, he could have fully seen the bodies of the two persons standing at the kitchen door, Paul said only from the waist under.

Meanwhile, under cross-examination by defence attorney Peter Hugh, Paul agreed with counsel that the incident had traumatized him and made him fearful for his life.

The trial continues this morning at 9 am, at the High Court in Georgetown.

Yearwood, Hussain and Hugh are representing Mark Royden Williams, Dennis Williams and Simon, respectively, while the state’s case is being presented by Prosecutors Diana Kaulesar and Stacy Goodings.

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