PIRACY ATTACK: Prime suspect confesses to throwing fishermen overboard, 3 still missing

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By Kristen Macklingam

One of the five men arrested by Police following three daring pirate attacks Friday night has confessed to the crime(s) committed and has given the police a confession statement which also implicated the captain and other crew members of a boat suspected to be involved in piracy.

Police Divisional Commander of Berbice, Ian Amsterdam disclosed that, based on information received, the three  fishermen still missing were reportedly tied to anchors and then thrown overboard by the pirates.

At right is Hemchand called Dread, who is dead; and the captain (second left) along with two crew members
From left are Dochan Sukra and Dhanpaul Rampaul (two of the missing fishermen); rescued boat Captain Seepersaud Persaud; and Hemchand called ‘Dread’, who died in the attack

It was reported that the first attack was carried out on a boat captained by Seepersaud Persaud along the Corentyne river, resulting in the death of one crew member who received a chop wound to the back of the neck and whose body has since been recovered, as well as the three others who were later thrown overboard and are still missing.

The captain of the vessel, Seepersaud Persaud, is the lone survivor after he was reportedly the first to be pushed overboard when the five pirates, armed with cutlasses and pieces of wood, hijacked his boat and used it to carry out robberies on two other fishing vessels.  Persaud was reportedly thrown overboard five miles offshore but was rescued by other fishermen after swimming for three hours. The following morning, Persaud was brought ashore and reported what transpired.

45-year-old Hemchand Sookdeo’s body was later discovered tangled in seines with a chop wound at the back of his head. When the pirates had finished executing their crimes they threw Sookdeo and the others into the water after they beat him. Sookdeo’s body was later found by other fishermen as they were pulling up their seine.

Missing: Munish Churman
Missing: Munish Churman

The other three fishermen that are yet to be found are Munesh Churman, called ‘Boyo’, 26; 54-year-old Dochan Sukra, called ‘Butcher’, and Dhanpaul Ramphal. All of these men are from the Upper Corentyne, Berbice.

The hijacked boat, Rosana 664, was found on Saturday evening by its owner Mohamed Husain Arran, drifting along the Corentyne waters after he spent many hours trying to locate it.

INews understands that when he entered his vessel he realized that one of its two engines was missing. It is believed that the pirates may have escaped with the new 48 Yamaha engine worth $900,000 after they had finished using the boat for their crimes.

According to Arran, the boat sustained some damage and his seines worth $3.5 million are also missing.

According to the police, while executing the second attack, the pirates sailed up alongside a fishing boat with a captain and crew of four and took away their fish and glue valued in excess of $800,000. The pirates are alleged to have then damaged the boat engine.

However, before leaving the second vessel they doused it with gasoline and threatened to set it ablaze, but had “a change of heart.”

They then left the crew and captain stranded, going on to attack the third boat. On this occasion, they did the same thing but made no threats.

Meanwhile, Clent Nathoo, the owner of one of the other boats that was attacked (Akbar SK 1509) , stated that after his workmen were attacked, they left their seines out at sea and returned to land, fearful for their lives.

He explained that they decided to return on Sunday to retrieve their seines. Nathoo said  his workmen told him that on the day they were attacked by the pirates it was a boat with five persons that pulled up next to theirs and they forced them (his workmen) into the boat’s cabin.

They then ordered the men with them to offload the fish. These men who were being ordered to do so are the missing fishermen, Nathoo said his workmen pointed out. That same night another boat owned by Hasrat Ali was also robbed.

Both crews from the last two boats being attacked were rescued and brought to shore on Saturday night. They were unharmed. Meanwhile, when the pirates returned to shore, they allegedly sold the fish to one of the owners of a boat which they had attacked the night before.

According to Commander Amsterdam, the captain of the pirate boat was the ring leader, but all of the others are being implicated. He said following the revelation by one of the suspects, the Police got assistance from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to conduct a search at sea for the missing men.

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