See full statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs:
Royden Williams was charged, inter alia, with the total of 23 counts of murder including the Lusignan and Bartica massacres. He was found guilty of nine counts of murder inclusive of murder of women, children and the death of a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) officer and sentenced to death on each.
In 2017, Williams escaped from lawful custody and was recaptured months thereafter.
On May 19. 2023, Williams again escaped from lawful custody. On this occasion from the high-security block of the Mazaruni Prison.
The facts and circumstances surrounding his escape are matters of public notoriety.
Several persons have since been charged in relation to his escape and some who aided and abetted his escape did so using high-powered automatic rifles which were fired upon Prison Officers during the ordeal. A wanted bulletin was issued.
Two of his accomplices were killed after an exchange of gunfire with members of the Joint Services who were in pursuit. Williams was shot dead by a Joint Services team during an exchange of gun fire on Thursday, June 1, 2023, within the 33 Miles, Potaro Road, Bartica area.
Shortly after his death, Williams’ sister engaged the Prison Authorities who informed her that the State will not hand over the body to the family and will take care of the funeral arrangements.
The reasons were provided to the sister. The Prison Authorities and the sister, on behalf of the family, discussed and consensually planned the funeral arrangements.
Out of those discussions, it was decided that the funeral will take place at Memorial Gardens, Le Repentir, with an agreed number of family members in attendance and that the family’s Pastor will do the final rites.
As of 8:00am this morning (June 9. 2023). the Director of Prisons and the sister of Williams confirmed these arrangements.
The Guyana Prison Service’s position on this matter is that unless the convictions and sentences imposed upon Williams were set aside or reversed by a court of competent jurisdiction, Williams’ body will remain with the prison authorities, as the law provides. Appeals filed and pending against his multiple convictions and sentences do not affect this position.
The matter is further compounded by the fact that Williams escaped again from lawful custody, aided and abetted by several persons, some of whom were in possession of high-powered automatic rifles, who not only fired upon the pursing ranks but also created general fear and terror countrywide.
Regarding Williams’ criminal record and antecedents, the recent facts and circumstances arising from his escape and considering other intelligence still being received by the security forces.
The decision remains that the Prison keeps custody of the body and performs the final rites in the manner identified above.