On April 27 and 28 2018, pirates attacked several fishing boats with Guyanese fishermen in what is being considered at the worst piracy attack on Guyanese fishermen.
Four fishing boats with a total crew of 20 were attacked during the two day period. Five of the fishermen survived after being chopped and thrown into the Ocean. The bodies of three of the missing men have since been recovered.
On the anniversary on the incident survivors and family members of the missing are still finding it very difficult to cope.
One of the survivors Dhramdeo Persaud called ‘Achie Boy’ told Guyana Times that he still has nightmares. He said many nights he wakes up scream after reliving the incident in his dream.
Survivors of the attack had reported being burned with hot oil, attacked with cutlasses and forced to jump overboard with anchors tied to their bodies at Wia Wia Bank just off the French Guiana Coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
Persaud received several chops to his right hand, both legs and his head before being told to jump into the cold water. He swam until he was rescued.
Three of the survivors including Persaud had reported seeing the alleged mastermind as one of the attackers.
He told this publication that he does not want to discuss the incident having received treats. Another survivor refused to say anything other than, “I am alright I don’t want nobody to publish anything about me.”
Over the past year several relatives have also reported being threatened.
In fact in January a 16-year-old daughter of the alleged mastermind of the piracy attack was arrested at the Springlands Court in relation to threats made to relatives of the deceases and witnesses in the trial.
Meanwhile, Persaud cannot work since the attack during which he was chopped several times he has also not received and of the $100,000 which government had promised to supervisors and relatives on the missing fishermen.
“Sometimes I have to sweep people bottom house for food. I am not supposed to do that. I got to do runner-boy wuk because I can’t wuk; if anybody send me to the shop or send me to the market that is what I have to do just to get something to survive,” Persaud said in a sad voice.
Since the attack four bodies have been discovered. The bodies of that of Mohabir, Mahesh Sarajoo also called ‘Cobra’ are the only two that have been positively identified after the deadly piracy attack.
One other body which was found in Surinamese waters is still to be identified via DNA testing while the body of Gowkarran Outal also called ‘Gavin’ was found on the Number 63 Beach Corentyne on May 10, and was positively identified by a Tattoo on his chest.
Eleven are still missing and are believed to have also died.
Since the attack, two men have been have been taken before the courts in Guyana; Nakool Manohar called “Fyah the alleged mastermind of Number 43 Village Corentyne and his co- accused Premchand Persaud, aka ‘Sinbad’.
Under the Piracy Act 2008 Chapter 14, it states that where an act of the offence is committed outside of Guyana, the person committing the offence may be dealt with in respect of the commission of the offence as if the offence had been committed at any place within Guyana or its territorial waters.
The two are accused of the murder of Tilacknauth Mohabir, called “Caiman”.
It is alleged that between April 26 and May 3, 2018, while at sea, Manohar and Persaud murdered Mohabir.
The Preliminary inquiry is still ongoing and the Prosecution has 38 witnesses. However the defense which is being let by Attorney at Law Joel Edmondson and Sanveef Datadin have decided that they will only be cross examining three of the witnesses.
On Thursday they concluded cross examining of one of the witnesses. The case will be called gain at the Whim Magistrate Court on May 16, when the Prosecution is expected to present video evidence and the defense is expected to further cross examine two other witnesses.
However, in neighboring Suriname where several persons were arrested and placed before the court on charged in relation to the said piracy attack, several of them have received life sentences.
Meanwhile, family members of those missing are finding it difficult to cope even one year after.
One of the missing men Denish Persaud called ‘Vicky’ left two children behind.
His wife Tarmattie Ibrihim remembers it as yesterday when he called her saying he was going to cook. That was moments before the boat was attacked.
According to the widow over the past year she has had to be moving from place to place. Less than one age she moved to Topu, Corentyne; the fourth time she has had move since.
This she says has had a negative impact on her children’s schooling.
According to the mother of five, she was initially able to secure Public assistance for her two youngest children and her eldest son had to leave school and start working.
However, the 30-year-old mother has not received any public assistance for the two children so far. The past twelve months Ibrihim says has been very difficult.
She recounted that when Persaud was around she could depend on him but with him gone and having a pre-school child she cannot go out to work.
Other family members say they have not been compensated from the employers of the missing fishermen.
Government had given $100,000 to some of the affected families but that sum they say has been inadequate.
“That just basically cover our transportation to Suriname and accommodation, the Government have not really done anything,” the sister of one of the missing men said but asked not to be named.
While authorities in Suriname have officially given up the search for the 11 missing fishermen, family members in Guyana are expecting a miracle.