Amid growing outrage over a piracy attack in which around a dozen Guyanese are still missing, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan is due to have talks today in Suriname with security officials there.
Yesterday, relatives of the missing fishermen were called to Paramaribo, Suriname where they provided samples for DNA matching to help identify several bodies that have been recovered.
The April 27th attack by suspected Guyanese pirates off the Surinamese coast has stoked fears in the fishing industry straddling the two countries and there have been calls for both Georgetown and Paramaribo to take concerted action.
The brother of missing fisherman, Mohabir Tilaknauth, 50, was one of the persons who provided DNA samples. According to Tilaknauth’s relatives, they were informed that they will be contacted if their relative is a match for one of the bodies.
Meanwhile, Ramjattan, Deputy Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent M.Kingston and Deputy Commander of B Division, Wayne Dehearte, who were scheduled to arrive in neighbouring Suriname last night, are expected to meet with the local authorities there today, in order to discuss the way forward, as it relates to the investigation into the horrific attack and the missing fishermen.
The Guyana Police Force issued their first statement yesterday on the incident, where they said that the Immigration Department through the Office of the Commissioner of Police had expedited the processing of seven passport applications of Guyanese nationals who are relatives of the missing fishermen.
Sunday Stabroek was told that as of yesterday the search for the twelve missing fishermen was continuing. However, as time goes by the chances of the search team finding them gets slimmer and slimmer.
The missing men who have been identified are: Tilaknauth Mohabir, 50, also known as ‘Kai’; Ganesh Beharry, Ralph Anthony Couchman, 19, also known as ‘Burnham’; Ramesh Sancharra, 48; Glenroy Jones, 21; Ramnarine Singh; Bharat Heeralall also known as “Record”, 49; Sunil known as Poddock, Mahesh Sarjoo, 35 and Rajkumar Bissessar. Three other fishermen are still to be identified.
This newspaper was told yesterday that police were continuing to question the three persons who were arrested in Berbice. According to a police source, an extension had been granted to keep the men in custody for further questioning. The source further added that the men were not saying much and have denied any involvement in the attack.
Sunday Stabroek also made contact yesterday with the police in Suriname, who were handling the investigation, and while they stressed that they were not allowed to divulge information until the probe had been completed, they noted that several persons have been held for questioning, including the Guyanese fisherman who was handed over to the Suriname authorities by a group of Guyanese and Surinamese fishermen on Thursday.
According to the Surinamese source, several boat owners were held for questioning yesterday, and the police were also speaking to close relatives of the boat owner who had been shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Suriname, on the 29th March of this year.
The Surinamese police’s initial theory is that the brother of the victim of the drive-by murder, had planned the attack as an act of revenge. The brother is one of the persons being held in custody in Guyana.
Four boats were attacked by five pirates in Surinamese waters two Fridays ago. Each boat was said to have been carrying five passengers, including four fishermen and a boat captain, most of whom were Guyanese. Sixteen were said to be missing after the attack.
However, four men who survived the attack were rescued initially, and then a fifth survivor was found last Thursday. In the first instance, the survivors were Darmandew Persaud, Anil Lall, 18, Marvin (only name provided) and a Surinamese national, whilst Sherwin Lovell, 42, was found last Thursday.
During the search and rescue operation which has been ongoing since the attack, three bodies were spotted by an airplane on Wednesday, at various points. On Thursday, one of the bodies, identified by relatives as that of Danesh Persaud, was retrieved, while the other two were recovered from the Wia Wia Bank area on Friday. The three bodies are being held at a mortuary in Paramaribo for official identification by DNA testing.