Ramjattan to seek witnesses from Suriname for questioning over fatal attack on fishers

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan will be making a request to the Surinamese police, seeking consent for at least seven Guyanese witnesses to be returned here for questioning in relation to last month’s fatal attack on almost two dozen fishers off the coast of Suriname.

Speaking at an Alliance For Change (AFC) news conference last Friday, Ramjattan said that it is hoped that witnesses can be questioned by the Guyana Police Force’s Criminal Investigation Department.

“That request came in an envelope from Commissioner of Police. I am going to make that request to the Surinamese authorities. They have sent me all they have done so far on a daily basis,” Ramjattan said, before adding that some elements are still missing and therefore more information is needed before the investigation can be completed.

Ramjattan added that alternatively, senior local officers could travel to neighbouring Suriname to interview the witnesses, including the accused persons and those that are on remand. “Because we need to do that ourselves,” he noted.

A team of high ranking officials from Suriname’s police force visited Guyana recently to meet with their Guyanese counterparts as part of the probe of the fatal attack.

Ramjattan said during the visit that the Surinamese police had indicated that they were going to assist their counterparts in gathering more evidence in the case. “…Because we had asked them for more evidence in relation to people who we suspect here in Guyana,” he said.

On April 27th, four boats carrying a total of 20 persons just off the Suriname coast were attacked. The perpetrators, reportedly armed with guns and cutlasses, chopped and beat the fishermen before robbing them. Some of the men were ordered to jump overboard with their injuries, while others were thrown overboard with batteries strapped to their legs.

Four men who survived the attack swam until they were rescued by passing vessels. Another survivor was subsequently found. Four bodies have also since been recovered.

Authorities suspect that the April 27th attacks were a reprisal for the murder of Somnath Manohar, a boat owner who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Suriname on March 30th of this year.

Ravikant Premcharan, a 23-year-old Surinamese policeman, was also killed in what is suspected to be an act of revenge for the attack on the fishermen.

Surinamese media had reported that Premcharan was found dead in a vehicle on Passiebloemstraat in Paramaribo, Suriname on May 13th. Premcharan was shot and stabbed about his body.

Manohar’s brother, Nakool Manohar, 39, also known as “Fyah,” was recently charged here with committing pirate attacks in 2015 and 2016. He has been remanded to prison.

A close associate of Manohar was also arrested at his home by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department’s Major Crimes Unit after the description of the boat which was used to carry out the attacks on the fishers matched his. However, he was subsequently released on $1 million station bail as there is no concrete evidence linking him to the attacks.

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