Berbice Assizes… Brothers testify in ‘scalping murder trial’
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JUSTICE Sandil Kissoon commenced hearing the ‘scalping murder trial’, in which Hemwattie Abdulla called “Annie” and “Anese”, along with Seerojane Permaul known as “Surojnie” or “Usher”, are accused of unlawfully killing Abdool Shakeel Majid, a US citizen on April 26, 2012 at Number 63 beach, Corentyne, Berbice.

Majid, along with his wife of four months, Hemwattie Abdulla, had arrived in Guyana on April 22, 2012 with the intention of spending a two-week vacation. But, five days later, the battered, lifeless body of Abdool Majid, whose scalp was missing, was found on the popular beach.

In the meanwhile, Abdulla had returned to the US, where she is a resident, and informed the deceased relatives that her husband was enjoying himself in Suriname and that he had urged her to return home, as her daughter had sustained a fractured arm.

The deceased brother, Abdul Hasseeb Majid, of Jamaica, Queens, USA, in his testimony before the mixed 12-member jury, recounted the last moment he saw his brother alive, and thereafter, the utterances of Hemwattie Abdulla, the number one accused, which caused him to make a missing person’s report at the New York City Police Department, before travelling to Guyana, where at his local address at Diamond Housing Scheme ,East Bank Demerara, he discovered his sibling’s suitcase, clothing, and US passport, along with other personal documents.

Led in his evidence by Special Prosecutor Ganesh Hira, the 50-year-old witness said that on May 14, 2012, after making a missing person’s report at the US Embassy in Georgetown, and the Criminal Investigation Department at Eve Leary, he later got hold of an article in a local newspaper which revealed there was an unidentified body lying at the New Amsterdam Hospital morgue.

After travelling to the Berbice County on May 16, 2012, he identified the remains as that of his brother Abdool Shakeel Majid, to detectives, before taking several pictures, which he developed at a local photo studio. The photographs were given to the police, and subsequently the prosecutor, upon completion of his testimony at the preliminary inquiry.
On May 22, 2012, as police continued their investigations, a white gold and diamond ring was shown to the witness, who identified it as belonging to his dead brother. Subsequently, the remains of the deceased was interred on May 24, 2012 at Blankenburg, West Coast Demerara.

Further, the witness recalled that Hemwattie Abdool, in the presence of his now deceased brother, had revealed that she was pregnant. Subsequently, a wedding followed on December 3, 2011. However, a child was never birthed. In 2007, the now deceased was a taxi driver in New York City, and had been involved in an accident, resulting in corrective surgeries and months of recuperation at home. He was awarded a hefty settlement.

Cross-examined by Defence Counsel Mursalene Bacchus, the witness said while he was aware that his brother’s wedding band was made by Zale’s Jewellery, he did not know the individual craftsman who designed the ring. Further, the police did not conduct a voice recognition analysis with respect to his telephone conversations with the number one accused.

Meanwhile, another sibling, Zaier Thomas testified to seeing his late brother and his wife–the number one accused–at his Greenwich Village home, were they consumed alcoholic beverages on April 23, 2012.

The couple, along with his brother-in-law, had arrived in a rented car. Abdool Shakeel Abdul was the driver. During that visit, Hemwattie Abdulla said they were returning to Diamond, East Bank Demerara, before heading to Berbice.
On May 11, 2012, after receiving a telephone call, he contacted Hemwattie Abdulla, initially via telephone, and subsequently face-to-face, at Diamond Housing Scheme, where he enquired about the whereabouts of his older brother.

Abdulla related that she went to Suriname via backtrack to look for her husband, and after he was not found, a missing person’s advertisement was placed in a local newspaper and on television. Further, she claimed to have had ‘opened book’, and had learnt that he was very much alive.

After the witness requested that they return to Suriname to make searches, the accused said she had to hurriedly return to the US. The witness recalled never seeing his brother again except for when he assisted is bathing his body for burial on May 24, 2012. In response to questions by Bacchus, Counsel for Abdulla, the witness said he was never contacted by the police to give a statement, but he did so at the Central Police Station, following promptings by his brother Abdool Shakeel Majid.

In her testimony Beverly Majid, a sister-in-law, recalled that the number one accused and the now deceased were together for three years prior to the incident in 2012. The witness had shared a close relationship with Abdulla, who would visit her home thrice daily and would engage in telephone conversations repeatedly during a 24-hour period.
Subsequent to previous telephone calls, the accused, on her return to the US, visited her on April 28, 2012, and relayed what they had spoken on the phone of visits to Suriname, and that her [ the accused] brother had taken them via the back track route, but she alone had returned. No reason was given for the visit to Suriname.

Following several visits and conversations, the witness revealed it was on May 8, 2012, that the accused said she was returning to Guyana to look for her husband. Five days later, during a telephone conversation, the accused reported that she had gone to Suriname where three dead bodies were shown to her, but none belonged to her missing husband.

The witness travelled to Guyana on May 22, 2012 on learning that her brother-in-law was murdered. Another witness, Zudesh Daniels alias “Ricky” under-cross examination by Bacchus and Nigel Hughes, attorney for the number two accused, responded that the Chinsammy’s car-wash where he was employed, would offer services to 15 cars per day. No records were made of the registration numbers of the vehicles which sought services. He did not know the registration number PNN1208, for it was the police who gave him the information. The police, he said, told him the name of the East Indian man was Balwant Singh. He was not shown the man, nor the man of African descent who had accompanied him.

Neither did the police returned the car for him to identify. Meanwhile, hire car driver Shazad Ally, of Adelphi, East Canje, was hired by Balwant Singh called “Bally”, brother of Abdulla, to collect his arriving sister at the Cheddie Jagan International Airport during the month of May 2012.

During the return trip to East Canje, the witness overheard Abdulla telling her brother that she would not be staying very long, as her husband had left for Suriname, and she wanted to know whether he was okay. Meantime, Detective Sergeant Linden Forbes Sampson, who had to be seated in the well of the court , due to his inability to stand for long periods, in responding to questions under cross -examination by Defence Counsels Bacchus and Hughes, said the DNA samples taken from the hair and skull, along with swabbing’s from the mouth and body of the deceased, were handed over to Detective Superintendent Greeves at the Forensic Laboratory, but the specimens were never sent overseas for analysis, as there was a lack of funding.

Further, he confessed that the 12 air fresheners found plastic-wrapped in the trunk of motor car PNN 1208 , had what appeared to be blood stains, but the photographs which were admitted into evidence did not reflect same. The witnessed agreed too that the vehicle was not dusted for fingerprints. The trial continues on Monday, when the remaining police witnesses are expected to testify.

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