Of the five persons charged for the Bartica massacre- that resulted in the deaths of 12 persons in 2008- two of them have so far pleaded guilty on the lesser counts of manslaughter.
On Monday Michael Caesar pled guilty to 12 counts of manslaughter before Justice Roxane George, while his co-accused, Celbert Reece on Tuesday pleaded the same. Both of them are scheduled to be sentenced on December 16.
The remaining three, Roger Anthony Simon, Mark Royden Williams and Dennis Williams have pleaded not guilty and will be prosecuted in the High Court. Their trials will commence today and will see over 30 witnesses testifying throughout the course of the proceedings.
Reece, who pleaded guilty on the lesser count for his involvement in the deaths, had his statements read out in Court by lead Prosecutor Diana Kowlessar. Information from his statements painted the picture that his actions were done under duress. He recollected that he received threats against him via a telephone call from “Fine Man” and he was later held up by four men armed with AK-47’s and a car driver who carried a hand gun at East La Penitence.
The court heard that this car took him to the Parika bus terminal in Georgetown where he and two other men travelled by bus to Parika. The defendant further claimed that he was “forcibly contracted” to drive the gunmen by boat from Parika to Bartica and to and from a resting place on a nearby island.
Recalling the night of the massacre, the defendant said that he and seven other men left the island at 18:00hrs for Bartica and he docked the boat. Reece also claimed that he heard gunshots and even witnessed five of the 12 victims being shot to the head by “Fine Man”. The court heard that after Reece set the boat adrift at a camp, two safes were opened which contained gold and jewellery. The defendant added that all the men were paid six ounces of gold each.
He said he later escaped from “Fine Man” and his henchmen some three months later after which he was captured by Police on May 27, 2008.
The five, allegedly being a part of the Rondell “Fine Man” Rawlins’ gang attacked the town and fatally shot 12 persons, namely Police Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Additionally, Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Irving Ferreira, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasseen, Errol Thomas and Baldeo Singh were the civilians killed.