…Suriname, Guyana deepen intelligence sharing
By Nafeeza Yahya in Paramaribo
SURINAMESE authorities have confirmed that 30 persons are in custody as investigations intensify into last week’s piracy attacks that have left over one dozen Guyanese fishermen dead.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Justice and Police, Stuart Getrouw at a joint press conference held by the Surinamese and Guyanese Governments on Monday at the Press Centre of the Office of the President at Kleine Combeweg, Paramaribo. Also present were Vice President and Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan; Suriname’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Lekhram Soerdjan and Minister of Defense Ronni Benschop; Guyana Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George, as well as high ranking officers from the police forces of both countries..
According to information, the 30 men were arrested on both land and sea, however, Minister Getrouw when quizzed on the details of those in custody, declined to comment as the investigations are ongoing and divulging details may compromise the probe. He, however, did confirm that the status and details surrounding the investigations and those in custody have been disclosed to the Guyanese delegation.
“We had a very fruitful discussion prior to the press conference this morning (Monday), where the Guyanese delegation was briefed on the actions of the Surinamese Police and they had a session where ideas and intelligence were shared, strategies were discussed to prevent future occurrences and after the press conference they will continue to meet with the Surinamese police,” he said.
Minister Ramjattan has also confirmed that the two countries have been working in tandem and from his end they have supplied critical information that was requested by the Surinamese. “I must congratulate the efforts being done by the Surinamese authorities [in] helping to [bring] to justice the people who were involved here and ensure there will be a continuation of the investigations.” He continued that only ‘’intelligence’’ was requested by the Surinamese from his end and he is satisfied with the way the investigations have gone thus far, noting,that a lot more is still to be done as it relates to retrieving the other bodies and identification as well.
“Part of why I am here is to ensure the cooperation and sharing of intelligence between the two countries to ensure justice is done. Whatever support is needed by the Surinamese authorities [from] the Guyanese authorities that support will be given so we can find the culprits, the criminals here, and the evidence so that they can be brought to justice”.
Among the men in custody is one of the alleged pirate, “Crackhead” who reportedly is a key player in the execution of the attack. Information reaching the Guyana Chronicle is that the man has reportedly confessed to killing at least five of the men during the attack. Over in Guyana, the police have three persons still in custody, one in ‘C’ Division and two in `B’ Division. Minister Ramjattan has confirmed that a stay order was granted beyond the 72 hours period, as investigators need a little more time to compile the evidence to present to the court. Since the piracy attack on the 27th of April, boat owners have docked their vessels out of fear of losing their lives and property. Many fishermen have been calling for the issuance of firearms licences to defend themselves while others have been asking for the Coast Guard to escort them out to sea.
GIVE US FIREARMS
“Where we are fishing the coast guard and them boats don’t reach there, so if they can go with us we can go out tomorrow and all, but unless we get security and know the people and the boats safe we won’t go out” said Hemanlall Ramsarran, the owner of the boat on which Sherwin Lovell, Ganesh Persaud, Glenroy Jones, Gowkarran Outar and Ganesh “Vicky’ Persaud were on.
Minister Getrouw told reporters at the press conference, that the concerns and the suggestions made by the boat owners, as well as fishermen, have been taken into consideration and he has requested that they remain docked for a week as they are currently working to put measures in place. He assured that while he would not disclose the details, the safety of the fisherfolk is paramount to both countries. The incident has led to a shortage of fish on the local market in Suriname with some suppliers allegedly hiking their prices by some 30 per cent. It is anticipated this may increase further if the men refuse to return to sea.