2012 Linden protests: $450M lawsuit filed against State by relatives of trio killed

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The relatives of Ron Somerset, Shemroy Bouyea and Allan Lewis, who were killed on July 18, 2012, by ranks of the Guyana Police Force during a protest in Linden have filed $450 million lawsuit against the State, with Attorney General Basil Williams listed as the respondent.

In the lawsuit’s application filed by Attorney-at-Law Darren Wade – a candidate on the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) candidates’ list for the upcoming elections – each of the families is making an application for a declaration that the deceased right to life and fundamental right to liberty was breached, encroached and infringed together with a declaration that the police were reckless and used unnecessary force to kill the men.

The men were among a large group of protesters, who were protesting against the minimal increase in electricity rates in Linden. Seven years after the trio’s deaths, the three families are each claiming in excess of $100 million for the breach and contravention of the deceased fundamental right to life, and another $50 million for the inhumane and degrading treatment the men suffered. In addition, the cost for exemplary damages and aggravated damages are being claimed.

Attorney General, Basil Williams

This lawsuit is set for hearing before Justice Franklyn Holder on February 25, 2020, at the Demerara High Court.

During the protest in 2012, which turned violent, several buildings and bridges were set on fire allegedly by residents of the mining town. Roads were blocked and persons living in Regions Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) were left stranded for almost a month.

CoI

After the deaths, a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) found that while there is no direct evidence against individual ranks, the Guyana Police Force is culpable for the three deaths.

The Commission had recommended financial compensation to the families of the three slain men, and similar compensation to the wounded, and for those whose properties were destroyed or damaged in the aftermath of the shooting.

Meanwhile, the CoI strongly castigated the individuals who organised the march that led to protesters blocking the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge and failing to ensure that the protesters did not obstruct the flow of traffic.

One such person included A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Member of Parliament Desmond Trotman, who supported the blocking of the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge in his testimony during the CoI.