High Court trial commences for men accused of slaughtering 12 in Bartica

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The five men who were allegedly involved in the slaughter of 12 persons in the infamous Bartica Massacre eight years ago, will finally stand trial at the High Court.

Mark Williams, also known as Durant or Smallie; Celbert “Chi Chi” Reece; Dennis “Anaconda” Williams; Michael Caesar called Deon Cort, “Fah” or “Kapone”; and Roger Simon known as “Goat Man” will today appear before a jury in the case, which will be presided over by Justice Roxanne George.

The five co-accused are facing 12 counts of murder as a first indictment, while on the second indictment; they will answer to charges of terrorism and unlawful wounding, in addition to three counts of break and enter and larceny.

Flashback: Three of the suspects arriving in Georgetown after they were apprehended
Flashback: Three of the suspects arriving in Georgetown after they were apprehended

During the 10-month Preliminary Inquiry (PI), which was presided over by Magistrate Fazil Azeez and which wrapped up in 2011, 37 witnesses had testified, including civilians, relatives of the deceased, forensic experts and several Police Ranks. The PI was conducted at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.

Back then, the men were all allowed to speak. Reece indicated that he wanted to give sworn testimony, while Simon maintained his innocence and related that he would reserve his witnesses for the High Court trial. The others had remained silent. In his sworn testimony, Reece had revealed that the others were equally involved in the killing of the 12 persons.

The suspects are accused of killing Irving Ferreira, Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir, Constable Shane Fredericks, Constable Ron Osborne, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasin, and Errol and Baldeo Singh on February 17, 2008 in an event that sent shockwaves throughout the country.

On that date, Bartica was attacked by a heavily-armed gang, leaving 12 people dead, including three Policemen. Police had contended that it was now deceased Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins, who was the leader of the criminal gang which carried out the brutal attack.

The gunmen had terrorised the town while the Bartica Police Station was overrun during the rampage. Several business places were also robbed during the hour-long mayhem. The attack is widely believed to have been linked to the Lusignan Massacre, which had occurred just three weeks prior. In that January 26 attack, 11 persons had lost their lives. Bartica co-accused Mark Williams is also implicated in the Lusignan Massacre, and is also slated to stand trial for that matter in the current session of the criminal assizes.

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