Convicted gang member gives evidence

Bartica massacre trial

− claims Prosecution’s information inaccurate when he pled guilty

As the Bartica Massacre trial continues at the High Court, a convicted member of the infamous gang that carried out the February 17, 2008 attack has stated that co-accused Mark Royden Williams, called “Smallie”, was not there on the day ofAccused the massacre. This claim was on Monday expressed in the evidence-in-chief of Michael Caesar, called “Capone”, who on December last was sentenced to 1080 years after he pleaded guilty to 20 counts of manslaughter in massacres at Lusignan and Bartica. In a twist of events however, Caesar under cross-examination, told the court that some of the Prosecutor’s facts as stated at the time when he entered his guilty plea, “were not true”.

Led by Mark Williams’ Defence Attorney, Roger Yearwood, the convicted witness told the court that seven gang members travelled to Bartica and another later joined them before they carried out the attack. These members, according to the Caesar were fellow convict Clebert Reece, who is Caesar’s first cousin; Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins; Dwane Williams; Chung Boy; Mud-up; Uncle Willie; and a “high complexion” person.

The jury once again heard an account of the shooting at the Police Station where guns were stolen and of the robbery at “Vulture’s” business place where two safes containing a variety of items, including gold were retrieved.

He further testified that in 2009, he was nabbed by authorities in Suriname, who handed him over to local Police.

Led further by Attorney Yearwood, Caesar told the court that he did not know Mark Williams before they appeared together at the Magistrates’ Court. The convicted man further claimed that he did not see co-accused Dennis Williams at the time of the Bartica attack, nor had he heard of other accused, Roger Simon, before he was charged.

Prosecutor’s cross-examination

Meanwhile, lead Prosecutor, Diana Kaulesar sought to discredit the entire account of the witness on the grounds that he is a “good friend” of Mark Royden Williams, called “Smallie”, and that the story was an attempt to testify on his friend’s behalf. Caesar, however, denied these suggestions, noting that Williams was a stranger to him.

It was under cross-examination that he noted that he never told the court that the facts surrounding his pleading guilty last year were not true. Prosecutor Kaulesar then grilled the witness as to why he elected to testify now that the defence is calling its witnesses.

The witness responded that it was only Friday that an Officer at the Prison informed him that he was scheduled to testify on Monday. Mark Royden Williams is also a co-accused in the Lusignan massacre in which Caesar had entered guilty pleas for manslaughter. When the co-accused Caesar had pleaded guilty for that massacre, Prosecutor Kaulesar had noted on January 26, 2008, the accused, along with other men, had entered Lusignan through Buxton backlands and decided to start raiding a number of houses to get cash, but they came up empty-handed after barging into several houses. Kaulesar had also highlighted Caesar’s claim that he was never in possession of a firearm and that he never killed any of the victims.

Caesar was on December last sentenced to 45 years in each of the eight counts of the Lusignan indictment, while he was sentenced to 60 years in each of the 12 counts of indictment in the Bartica massacre, resulting in a 1080-year sentence. He will have to spend at least 40 calendar years in jail before he can attempt to acquire parole. Co-accused, Clebert Reece who was the boat driver that transported the gang to Bartica was sentenced to 420 years for the Bartica attack. Reece and another gang member, Dwane Williams, had identified Mark Williams and Dennis Williams as being part of the gang that executed the Bartica attack. It was after the Prosecution rested its case, that witnesses for the defence have testified that the two Williams were not present at Bartica during the attack. All the while, the majority of witnesses have noted that third accused, Roger Simon, was not there during the Bartica massacre. The trial continues today before Justice Roxanne George, SC, at the High Court. (Shemuel Fanfair)