Suriname piracy attack | Alleged mastermind charged with murder

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Nakool Manohar, called ‘Fyah’ as he makes his way into the Springlands Magistrate's Court

NAKOOL Manohar called “Fyah”, 39, the alleged mastermind of last month’s massacre of Guyanese fishermen in Suriname, was on Wednesday charged with the murder of one of the dead men.

The massacre occurred on April 27, 2018. Manohar appeared at the Springlands Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh on Wednesday to answer to charges of piracy on the high seas for which he was previously remanded. However, he was instead slapped with the murder charge. He was not required to plead to the indictable charge that stated between April 26th and May 3rd, while in Guyana’s territorial waters, he murdered Tilacknauth Mohabir called ‘Caiman’.

He was refused bail and remanded to prison until June 13th when he will make his next appearance. He was also further remanded on two previous charges of robbery on the high seas committed in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Relatives of one of the victims, Denesh Persaud called Vicky

Manohar, who was represented by Attorney-at-Law, Joel Edmond, was initially being charged with two counts of murder for that of Mohabir and Mahesh Sarjoo called “Cooba”. However, due to both murder charges being filed together, Edmond argued that in a haste to pin charges to his client, the police are placing improper documentation before the court, since the law does not permit for the two charges to be “lumped” together but rather individual charges and moved that the charges be struck out and his client be discharged.
However, Police Prosecuter Orin Joseph asked that the name be amended on the charges and had the name of Sarjoo struck out. The request was granted and the magistrate re-read the new charge. It is, however, expected that the other murder charge will be filed at a subsequent date.

The bodies of Mohabir and Sarjoo were the only two that were positively identified by relatives in Suriname after the deadly piracy attack on 27th April last on four boats with 20 men. One other body that was found in Surinamese waters is still to be identified via DNA testing while the body of Gowkaran Outar called Gavin was found on the #63 Beach on May 10th and was positively identified by a tattoo on his chest by relatives. Five persons survived the ordeal while 11 are still missing and feared dead.
Further, the defence attorney questioned the allegations of his client being involved in piracy in Suriname and being tried here in Guyana to which the prosecutor cited the Piracy Act of 2008 under Chapter 14 which states: “Where an offence under this Act is committed outside Guyana, the person committing such offence may be dealt with in respect of the commission of the offence as if the offence had been committed at any place within Guyana or its territorial waters.’ Thus, Attorney Edmond’s application for the charge to be dismissed was disallowed and Manohar was remanded.

Meanwhile, outside the courtroom there was tension as relatives of the victims and those of Manohar exchanged words. Nandanie Sukra, called Annie, the mother of Ralph Couchman called “Burnham”, was asked by the mother of Manohar why she was present in court, to which she replied “You son Fyah kill me son; wha you mean wha me a do hay?” this caused an uproar as other family members of Manohar jumped to attack the woman in a bid to silence her from hurling abuse. Police quickly intervened and managed to calm things down. Sukra and relatives of Denesh Persaud called “Vicky” eventually filed a report at the station. The drama continued as Manohar was on the stand when Tarmattie Abrahim called “Kavita’’ the wife of Dinesh Persaud called “Vicky”, stated loudly to Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh “this man nah innocent”. She was told this was not the forum and should air her views with the media.

Speaking with the media, the attorney for Manohar is questioning the readiness of the police as it relates to the file, since he is ready to move forward with the matter and believes the actions of the police are a deliberate attempt to stall justice and keep his client in custody. He noted that since the last appearance, the police had asked for two weeks and that time has elapsed and he is now ready to move forward but was surprised to know the file was not ready for the proceedings at the court earlier in the day.

Mother of Ralph Couchman called Burnham (first from right) along with other family members at the Springlands Magistrate’s Court

Edmond’s comments came on the heels of the prosecution seeking a further three weeks to prepare, since they are in the process of getting witnesses from Suriname into the country for statements. It has been over a month since what is described as one of the deadliest piracy attacks within recent times occurred. The incident had gained international attention and placed tremendous pressure on the law enforcement authorities of both Guyana and Suriname. Investigators are working on the theory that the attack was an act of revenge in an ongoing disagreement among Guyanese fishermen who are the main suppliers of fish to the Suriname market. A brother of Manohar was killed in a drive-by shooting allegedly at the hands of other fishermen.