Support for victims of West Berbice unrest being examined – Ali

Government is contemplating “support” for victims who were affected during the weeks of protests along the West Coast Berbice (WCB) corridor following the murder of Joel and Isaiah Henry last year.
This was revealed by President Dr Irfaan Ali, who told reporters on the sidelines of a press briefing on Wednesday at State House that “There is something that we’ve been looking at, and we’re continuing to look at.”
However, while there may not be full compensation for losses and damages to properties, the Head of State assured that there will be some sort of support extended to those victims of the West Berbice unrests.
“…compensation is a very loaded word, because some people lost two, three vehicles, but we are definitely going to support them, and that process has started,” Ali indicated.
The deaths of the teenage cousins back in September 2020 had sparked widespread public outrage, resulting in residents from several villages along the West Coast Berbice corridor taking to the streets. The main WCB Public Road and lone access road to upper Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) was blocked with debris, and tyres were set on fire, leaving many stranded as residents called for justice for the slain teens.
However, those protests escalated into riotous actions as commuters attempting to traverse the WCB public road were beaten and robbed by mobs, while vehicles were stoned, and several of them, including a truck carrying paddy, were set ablaze.
Additionally, at least three buildings – a house at Bel Air, WCB and a house at New Amsterdam in Region 6, (East Berbice-Corentyne), together with a barber shop at Bush Lot, WCB – were destroyed by fire during the violent protests.
The unrests, which lasted for more than a week in September and were reignited for several days in October, had turned deadly when 34-year-old Prettipaul Hargobin, called “Roy”, was beaten to death by a group of protesters at Bath Settlement, WCB. Six persons, including a teenager, were charged for Hargobin’s September killing.
The mutilated bodies of 16-year-old Isaiah Henry and 19-year-old Joel Henry were found in the backdam at Cotton Tree, WCB on September 6, 2020 almost two days after they had left their Number Three Village, WCB home to pick coconuts but never returned.

File photo: The paddy truck that was set on fire in September

A few days later, on September 9, 17-year-old Haresh Singh was murdered in the backdam at Number Three Village in what was believed to be a retaliatory killing, since he was related to one of the suspects initially held for the murder of the Henry boys.
There is yet to be a breakthrough in Singh’s murder. However, in January, Police arrested and charged 19-year-old Akash Singh, called “Monkey,” of Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo (EBE); his stepbrother, 33-year-old Anil Sancharra, called “Dan pole” and “Rasta,” of D’ Edward Village, WCB; and 34-year-old Vinod Gopaul, called “Magga,” of Yakusari, Black Bush Polder, Corentyne, Berbice for the gruesome murder of the two cousins.

File photo: A scene from the West Berbice unrest last September

Singh has since confessed to the crime, and was charged separately for the murders, while the other alleged perpetrators have remained silent and are facing a joint murder charge. Singh has claimed that the teenagers were killed under suspicion that they had destroyed a marijuana farm that the three accused had planted weeks before.
The preliminary inquiry into the murders is set to commence on May 3 at the Blairmont Magistrate’s Court. Presiding Magistrate Peter Hugh had previously indicated that the Court would hear the matter two days per week, hence he has set aside May 3, 4, 10 and 11 for the first set of hearings.
Meanwhile, Mark Henry, brother of Joel and cousin of Isaiah, was earlier this month charged for murdering 68-year-old Sooroojdeo Deochand, called “Sarjee,” on March 30, 2021. The pensioner’s bloodied body was discovered in his Number Three Village home by relatives.
Deochand had been among a group of men initially arrested in September last year for the Henry boys’ murder.
Hencosey Henry, brother of the accused Mark Henry, had told detectives during interrogation that his brother had admitted to chopping Deochand to death in retaliation for Joel’s murder.
Mark reportedly declared, “I just chop up that one Sarjee…I chop out he neck and face…he kill me brother, and now I feel pleased I kill he now.” (G8)