Two of the persons detained here for the vicious April 27th attack on more than a dozen fishermen in Suriname waters were yesterday released on $100, 000 station bail each while the third will most likely be set free on Monday.
Commander of `B’ Division, Lyndon Alves made these disclosures when contacted by Stabroek News yesterday. He explained that the extension of time given to keep the duo, who are fishermen in detention, ended yesterday. This newspaper was later told that the men were unable to meet the bail amount and as such were still at the police station where there were held. It would appear that the police may be forced to release the men without the lodging of the bail since there is nothing to hold them on.
Alves said that the third person, who is the brother of murdered Guyanese businessman, Somnath Manohar and a boatowner will however remain in custody until Monday. “We have until then (Monday) with him to see what we can get”, the Commander said. The trio was arrested separately late last week.
The release of the two men came one day after Acting Police Commissioner David Ramnarine informed reporters that the police here have three persons in custody. He had said that while the press has reported that these persons are suspects, there is nothing at this point that confirms that they were participants in the attack.
“They are in custody as a result of information received and it is not definitive at this point in time as to the nature of any involvement or the extent of any involvement at this point in time”, he said during a press conference hosted by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Wednesday.
Alves further informed yesterday that investigators in Berbice do not have direct evidence connecting a specific person to the attack. While stressing that the investigation is still very much ongoing, he noted, that the duo were arrested after their names were called during the initial stages of the investigation.
Ramnarine explained that ranks did receive some information from some fishermen “which seems to have placed one of the persons in custody at a certain area in Suriname prior to the departure of fishermen and a certain conversation would have unfolded but that is as far as we have at this point in time”, he had said, adding that while ranks have managed to secure detailed statements there is a lot more work to be done to “get to the bottom of it”.
He said that the first four victims of the April 27th attack who made reports to the police provided call names for the perpetrators, two of whom were identified as `Crackhead’ and `Dick’. These two, he had said are among the first batch of 12 suspects. Another three he said were arrested on Monday afternoon bringing the total number of suspects in Suriname to 15.
Based on the information emanating from Suriname yesterday those 15 persons remain in custody. There has been no new development in the investigations being conducted in the neighbouring country.
Four boats were attacked by five suspected 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.
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.
Though relatives and associates of Manohar are continuing to refute claims that the killing is connected to the April 27th attack, law enforcement officials in Suriname and Guyana seem convinced that this is indeed the case.
It was Ramnarine who confirmed on Wednesday that the attack was likely a reprisal for Manohar’s killing which occurred on March 30.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done. It seems to be that the basis for this gruesome, heinous and dastardly act had to do with some form of retaliation for one of the persons in custody whose brother was allegedly gunned down in a drive-by shooting…in Suriname Ramnarine said during the press conference. The businessman is the owner of several fishing boats.
Stabroek News subsequently saw a press release issued in Suriname which suggested that the businessman and a worker were ambushed by gunmen travelling in two vehicles. The release did not identify a possible motive for the shooting.
The release dated April 4 said that 40-year old Manohar and his 45-year-old worker identified as Vosdeo P. were shot by unknown persons moving in two vehicles. It noted that the police received a report of a shooting at an address in the Munder district and police responded. Munder is located in Paramaribo.
When, the police arrived, the release said they found the two wounded men. “The preliminary investigation showed that the entrepreneur was with his family and some workers …At some point, two vehicles probably stopped in front of the house”, the release said while adding that gunshots were then fired from one of the cars.
The cars then drove off. Manohar was later transported to the emergency department of the Academic Hospital, Paramaribo while the worker arrived in an ambulance. Both men, the release said, were admitted. Manohar died a few hours later while Vosdeo P. remained in the hospital and “is out of danger”.
Police sources said last week that their theory is that the attack was revenge for the murder of Manohar, who is the boat owner’s brother. The boat owner was arrested at the Number 43 Village, Corentyne fishing wharf. It would appear that this information was fed to law enforcement officials by fishermen.
Manohar’s relatives had told this newspaper that the theory of a revenge plot is far from the truth, noting that they believe someone is trying to set them up.
The deceased man’s son, who resides in Suriname, refuted claims of his family plotting revenge against the fishermen. Stabroek News attempted to reach him yesterday but was unsuccessful.
“This is not true, my father died in a drive-by shooting on Good Friday. They are saying that we are using it as a revenge but we are not, we don’t have nothing to do with this,” the dead man’s son insisted.
The boat owner’s relatives in Guyana have also claimed that he has no knowledge of what transpired. A close relative while noting that they were not ready to speak with the media, said that the man was home when the attack was carried out. Additionally, the relative said that the police have been after the boat owner for quite some time, explaining that he would usually be arrested for any crimes being committed on the sea. The person noted that although they would arrest him and take him in for questioning, they have never been able to charge him.
During the search and rescue operation which has been ongoing since the attack, three bodies were spotted by an airplane last Wednesday, at various points. The following day 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.
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.