February 28, 2015

GGMC Engineer executed at Diamond

Executed GGMC worker, Trevor Abrams

Executed GGMC worker, Trevor Abrams

…drives car into trench in bid to escape

By Bhisham Mohamed

An engineer attached to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) was on Friday morning executed while driving along the Diamond Public Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD).

Trevor Abrams, 31, of Lot 129 Samantha Point, Grove Village, EBD, was shot at least four times by occupants of a Carina 212 motor car in the vicinity of Demerara Distillers Limited around 11:00h.

According to information received, the young man was driving his Silver Grey Toyota Allion bearing registration number PSS 6855 when another car pulled up alongside him. Several gunshots were reportedly heard as the two cars sped away.

From all indications, Abrams attempted to escape and accelerated away, but crashed into a utility pole and ended up in a nearby canal. The other car disappeared.

The car Abrams was driving when he was executed

The car Abrams was driving when he was executed

Moments after the car plunged into the trench, public-spirited citizens ran to Abrams’ rescue and managed to pull him from the submerged vehicle. He was rushed to the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital (Diamond Diagnostic Centre) where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

At the scene, several Police ranks were busy collecting spent shells. At least four gold coloured spent shells were recovered from the scene.

Devastated

When the Guyana Times checked at the medical institution, family members who had gathered consoled each other. Abrams’ only sister sat on one of the benches with tears in her eyes.

One family friend, Pamela Younge told the Guyana Times that she was returning home from Georgetown when she saw the car in the canal, but at that time she did not know it was Abrams’.

Within a few minutes, Younge stated, she received a phone call and was asked by a relative to visit the Diamond hospital to confirm if indeed it were Abrams. She said at the hospital, she saw the young man clad in a jersey and pair of jeans lying on a stretcher covered with blood.

Shortly after the fiancée of the young man arrived in tears, but refused to enter the hospital compound, claiming “I don’t want to see a dead man… I want to see Trevor alive”.

The teacher at the Grove Primary School was comforted by several of her colleagues who came with her. By this time, other relatives of the dead man arrived including his stepmother, Bridgette Abrams.

She told the Guyana Times that she was at work when she received a call informing her that Abrams was involved in an incident and he was at the Diamond hospital. She frantically picked up her belongings to rush out, but, as she was about to leave, she received another phone call saying “his body is at the hospital… hurry and come”.

At that time, she became weakened, as she knew that the person’s use of the word “body” meant that he was dead. In tears, the woman stated that she drove to the hospital and as she entered, she saw her son lying motionless with at least four bullet wounds to his back.

Motive unclear

She recalled leaving Abrams at home claiming that he took the day off. “Honestly, I can’t say who would want to harm Trevor … he is such a peaceful child … he attends the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Grove and is well-mannered … Why would someone want to kill him?” she cried.

The devastated woman explained that he would travel into the interior and return after spending some time. “He returned home a few weeks ago and this morning he told me that he was going to look after some important work.”

Almost everyone who turned up at the hospital to offer support to the grieving family spoke well about the young man’s character leaving many unanswered questions about the events that led to his demise.

 An uncle by marriage, Ustus Gibson, stated that he was at home when he received the dreadful news about the death of his wife’s nephew. He recounted that he was in the shop, but after receiving the call, he closed the doors and rushed out with his wife to the hospital. He said he was hoping that it was the wrong person.

As they arrived at the medical institution, he saw a few other relatives and it was then he was convinced that it was Abrams. He too stated that the young man was an ardent churchgoer and it was difficult to comprehend what occurred.

“Who would want him dead? From what we are hearing is that it might have been an attempted carjacking but we are still to confirm the motive behind the shooting,” Gibson stated.

There was also speculation that the young man might have been carrying a large sum of money when he was killed. Others thought that it was a botched robbery and the young man might have been trailed from his house.

Police are conducting a thorough investigation into the incident.

The young man had been working at the GGMC for the past three years and only recently finished his studies at the University of Guyana. He leaves to mourn his father, step-mother, two brothers and one sister.

This is the third execution in less than two weeks – 41-year-old Randolph Singh, owner of Airmax Vulcanising Shop was gunned down in front of his business place on South Road, Georgetown by a lone gunman.

A few days prior, an ex-policeman, Beepat Taijram of Albouys Street, Albouystown, Georgetown, was shot and killed during a robbery at Campbell Street, Grove, EBD by two men who robbed him of his gold jewellery. In both matters, the Police have failed to make an arrest. (bhisham@guyanatimesgy.com)

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TT chopper arrives

The National Helicopter Services Limited Chopper at the Trans Guyana Hangar at the Ogle International Airport

The National Helicopter Services Limited Chopper at the Trans Guyana Hangar at the Ogle International Airport

…for ExxonMobil’s offshore operations

Trinidadian-based company the National Helicopter Services Limited (NHSL) is in Guyana to provide services to US oil giant ExxonMobil during its operations in the country’s offshore waters.

When this publication visited the Trans Guyana Hangar at the Ogle Airport on Friday, one of the company’s helicopters had just touched down. Officials declined to comment on their reason for being in Guyana. However, reliable sources at the airport confirmed that NHSL would be servicing ExxonMobil.

According to NHSL’s website, the company provided service support to the offshore oil and gas production as well as offshore drilling and seismic surveys. Also, they would usually provide transportation to and from oil and gas platforms.

Based on previous reports which indicated that ExxonMobil already conducted seismic surveys, it is purported that, by means of elimination, the services required of the helicopter company would be for transportation. Additionally, on NHSL’s website, the company listed ExxonMobil as one of its present clients. The NHSL, which has existed for over two decades, currently operates six helicopters for commercial use.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil is slated to commence drilling in an area offshore Guyana known as the Stabroek Block in mid-March. The area for exploration measures some 26,806 square kilometres and the company intends to drill 1750 metres deep.  Recently, executives of the company updated the Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Robert Persaud on the activities it would undertake over the next few weeks before it commences its exploration project, valued at approximately US$600 million.

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Conductor shot dead during ‘gunplay’

A minibus conductor is now dead after he was accidently shot by one of his friends on Thursday at his home at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara.
Travis Lowenfield, 27, of Lot 96 Sixth Street, Sparendaam Housing Scheme, was shot once to his abdomen and was rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he underwent an emergency surgery but later succumbed.
Based on reports received, the now dead man was in the company of three friends when one of them identified as Levi whipped out a handgun and started to ‘play’ around. He reportedly placed the gun to Lowenfield’s abdomen and joking said “hand over all the money you win last night”. He was at the time referring to the winnings from a game of cards on the “Line Top” on Wednesday evening.
The Guyana Times understands it was at this time the gun suddenly went off. Out of panic, the alleged shooter fled the scene while the two others, Akeem and Kevin (only names given) were arrested and placed in custody.
Alicia Lowenfield, an aunt of the dead man, told the Guyana Times that earlier in the day, the now dead man turned up at her place of employment to collect the keys to get into the house, claiming that he had taken the day off.
She explained that her nephew lived with her for more than 15 years. She handed over the keys to the house and he left. At approximately 14:00h, she stated that she received a call from one of his friends informing her that Travis was shot and was taken to the hospital.
She immediately instructed the friend to collect her and they both went to the hospital. The woman stated that as she arrived, her nephew was in the theatre as the doctors tried to remove the bullet. She went on to say that some time after, they received the news of his death.

“Joking around”
“I later learnt that he was at home when it started to rain and his friend from the road ran into the yard to take shelter… he was frying plantain so they all stayed and started to joke around. Apparently, they were gambling on Wednesday night and Travis won plenty money … so Levi out of joke pulled out the gun and jokingly told Travis to hand over the money,” the aunt explained.
Neighbours reportedly stated that they saw when the men went into the yard and after some time, they heard the gunshot. Guyana Times understands that as they looked out, they saw an injured Lowenfield calling out to them for help.
The aunt described her nephew as a jovial and very hardworking individual. He was well known in the area for his ‘big mouth’, she recounted. His parents, she stated, reside in Paradise, ECD. Attempt to contact the parents of the young man proved futile.
Meanwhile, Police investigations revealed that Lowenfield was involved in an argument with another man in his house during which he was shot to the abdomen. The argument, the Police stated, was over money.
The Police also stated that two men have been arrested and are in custody assisting with the investigations. The young man leaves to mourn his parents and four siblings.

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APNU/AFC campaign heats up

Retired Brigadier David Granger listening attentively to the remarks of this elderly gentleman on a recent visit to Essequibo

Retired Brigadier David Granger listening attentively to the remarks of this elderly gentleman on a recent visit to Essequibo

…support overwhelming, claims Harmon

By Gomatie Gangadin

The newly-formed A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU-AFC) coalition is set to officially launch its campaign on Wednesday, March 4 at the Pegasus Savannah Suites and according to APNU General Secretary Joseph Harmon “things are heating up” for the grand start.

Speaking to the Guyana Times on Thursday evening in a telephone interview, Harmon said the party was in full swing with preparations, noting that even as he was speaking, the party was meeting and fine-tuning details for the campaign.

According to Harmon, the two parties will be campaigning on one platform in keeping with their ultimate goal and theme of a government of national unity.

He noted that with the launch soon approaching, the coalition camp was enveloped in enthusiasm and anxiety as the members could not wait to experience the change Guyana has been for so long awaiting.

“Everyone is enthused, man. The Guyanese people’s long wait for change won’t be a long wait anymore. There are only a few more days to go. The kind of government that they want to move forward will be here,” Harmon enthusiastically said.

When questioned about the response the coalition has been receiving from its support base as it takes its campaign across the country, Harmon claimed that the support was indeed overwhelming and has proven to be much more than what they had initially expected.

He added that even the citizens who had vowed not to head to the polls again and those who had given up hope of a change have been coming on board with the coalition, with the strong belief that change was coming for the country.

“It is excellent! Excellent! Man, everywhere we go, people are enthused. The dormant are proceeding to become alive. It is going to be a great campaign; it is awakening the spirit of the people.

“One woman told us on a recent campaign that she is feeling light. We should all feel light.

“We have been downtrodden for so long. Our campaign will make people think that Guyana is the place they want to be; that this is the place they need to be. Persons in the United States, in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean, they must be encouraged and tempted to come back to Guyana,” the General Secretary said.

Alluding to the recent Mashramani Float Parade in which the parties took part, Harmon noted that the support which was shown by the Guyanese people as the coalition entered the National Park was indeed a reinforcement of the confidence which the Guyanese people have in the grouping.

As such, he believes that when the campaign hits the road, the task of encouraging people to come out and show their support will not such a hard one after all.

He said the party was utilising every available tool at its disposal which included social media, print and electronic media, ground walks and bottom-house and public meetings to ensure that its message of change is spread throughout the length and breadth of the country.

“Thus far, the support is very encouraging. We have been on the ground, on the social media, it is all positive,” he said.

Targeting youths

Meanwhile, regarding the elections campaign, Ryan Belgrave, head of the Guyana Youth and Students Movement (GYSM), the youth arm of the APNU major party People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), had told this newspaper that the coalition will be taking its campaign to every corner of the country and will be targeting the young people, since they make up more than 69 per cent of the voting population.

He noted that it was time for the youths to exercise their rights to ensure a better education system and the availability of job opportunities which are currently lacking under the ruling Administration.

Belgrave related that the party would be utilising social media as well as the traditional methods of going door-to-door to get the party’s message out.

He also disclosed that the party would be seeking to have its messages translated as best as it possibly can into the language of the Amerindians, naturalised Chinese and Brazilians so that they too can come on board with the party and its plans for Guyana.

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Harper is competent, knowledgeable – Rudy Insanally

By Gomatie Gangadin

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Rudy Insanally has hailed Ambassador Elisabeth Harper’s selection as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the May 11 General and Regional Elections, describing her as competent and very knowledgeable in her field of international relations.

PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate Elizabeth Harper

PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate Elizabeth Harper

According to Insanally, Harper, who served as Director General under him, has always been a competent, professional, loyal and well-liked woman to those she knew and worked with and as such, her ascent to such a position should not be a surprise to any.
“On her selection as the PM Candidate for the PPP/C, I am not at all surprised. After a while everyone seeks avenues to move forward and she has made her choice,” Insanally said of Harper.

Describing her as a “very, very charming and cooperative individual”, Insanally related that by the time he retired as a Government Minister, Harper had acquired a very broad understanding of diplomacy and Guyana’s international relations. “Certainly, it was very pleasant having her worked with me,” Insanally said.

He told the Guyana Times that someone once described Harper as “unflappable” noting that this may be so since “she takes everything in strides; deals with everything in a very competent manner and was not given to any outbursts”, Insanally related. Asked about her areas of strength, Insanally said that she was very effective in whatever capacity she held while pointing out that as Director General, she held the primary responsibility for administration and accountability of the Ministry.

“She had direct charge over the staff, including ambassadors. She had developed a very firm grasp of the various issues. I found her quite competent in dealing with the various issues on her plate. She had ascended the ladder and made a lot of progress in her career,” Insanally declared. He believes whether PPP/C wins or loses, Harper has the skills that will take her through until such a time she decides to retire. Besides, Insanally said Harper also had fair knowledge of various diplomatic issues Guyana is pursuing and had to be adept with the country’s foreign policies.

Well-liked
Meanwhile, former Foreign Trade Minister, Dr Henry Jeffrey, in an interview with the Guyana Times on Thursday related that while he did not know Harper on a personal basis, given the fact that they have never really worked together, what he did know was that she has a personality which was liked by many.

According to him, there is no doubt of her capabilities since she is very much loyal and committed to her work and always strives to ensure that her agenda is accomplished. “As a person, I find her to be a very nice person, a very approachable person; a person who tries to help out as much as she can. As a professional, her approach is to be loyal to the Minister, whomever it may be at that time. She will take on her agenda to work it as best as it can,” the political commentator noted.

On Wednesday, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Chairman Sharma Solomon commended the public servant for her ascent to the position. He noted that as far as he saw it, Harper was a longstanding public servant and politics was another form of public service.
Harper, born on October 2, 1957 and attended the St Rose’s High School, hails from Kitty, Greater Georgetown, and has worked in the foreign service for decades. Harper succeeds outgoing Prime Minister Samuel Hinds who has held that position since 1992 when the PPP/C was voted into office for the first time in 28 years.

The Ambassador to Caricom is married to Guyanese cricket coach and former West Indies cricketer, Mark Harper. She is the mother of three girls, Michelle, Natasha and Melissa.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in French from the University of Guyana as well as the title of the Best Graduating Student (1981-1986) as well as a Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Oxford, England.

The newly-selected PM candidate, who also holds the Golden Achievement Award, began her career at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1976 as a Registry Clerk, working her way to hold the title of Director General at the Ministry. She has previously served as Director of the Department of the Americas and Asia at the Ministry from 1996 to 2001; a Consular at the Guyana High Commission, London 1991-1995, and Head of the Frontier Division, Foreign Affairs Ministry 1990-1991.

She has been a member of Guyana’s delegation to various meetings of Caricom; the Latin American Economic System; the Association of Caribbean States (ACS); the United Nations (UN); the Commonwealth; and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR); among others. Harper has served in several other positions as Ambassador to Caricom (2003 to present), Non-resident High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago (2003-present), Non-resident High Commissioner to Barbados (2004-present), Non-resident High Commissioner to Grenada (2006-present) and Non-resident High Commissioner to St Kitts and Nevis.

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Rice farmers unhappy over lack of markets

Agriculture Minister  Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Agriculture Minister
Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Chairman of the Rice Producers’ Action Committee, Jinnah Rahman on Thursday declared that rice farmers are demanding total control of the rice industry and chided the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) for its inability to secure markets for their bumper harvest.

Speaking at a press conference at the Georgetown Club, Rahman was adamant that the livelihood of rice farmers is in great danger.

He explained that while the Government continues to talk of progress in the sector, the small scale farmers are suffering.

This was supported by retired Chief Executive Officer of Alesie Group, Turhane Doerga who said that while there has been increased rice production, small scale farmers are being paid very little.

The group is calling for an amendment to the Rice Producers Act, immediate re-establishment of the Guyana Agriculture and Industrial Development Bank, duty free concessions and re-organisation of GRDB. These they claim will ensure equity in the industry.

But Agriculture Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy in an invited comment said the rice industry has been privately controlled since 1992.

“All rice fields are operated by small, medium and large size farmers. All mills are owned by the private sector. All export, except export to Venezuela is managed completely by the private sector,” he explained.

According to him, the exports to Venezuela fall under the auspices of the Petrocaribe Agreement, which is based on State to State relations. The GRDB in this instance links millers to the Venezuelan market.

Retired Chief Executive Officer of Alesie Group Turhane Doerga and Chairman of the Rice Producers’ Action Committee (RPAC) Jinnah Rahman at Thursday’s press conference

Retired Chief Executive Officer of Alesie Group Turhane Doerga and Chairman of the Rice Producers’ Action Committee (RPAC) Jinnah Rahman at Thursday’s press conference

He added that Government is also involved in quality assurance for exports.

“Before 1992, this was a government controlled industry.

“Mr Doerga was given total control of the government business under Mr Hoyte. He helped to destroy the industry,” Ramsammy charged.

Minister Ramsammy stated that the board is always looking for new markets. He added that exports have increased from 50,000 tonnes in 1990 to 504,000 tonnes in 2014 while production was 635, 000 tonnes.

The Minister said there are plans to strengthen the marketing and research arm of the GRDB in 2015.

Earlier this week President Donald Ramotar acknowledged that lucrative markets for rice have dried up.

Ramotar said that the rice sector despite its many successes over the past years is facing monumental difficulties finding regional and international markets, especially at a price that will be acceptable.

Last year under pressure to defend its failure to secure markets for the current bumper rice crop and justify what it does with the $500 million it receives yearly from its levy on rice exports, the GRDB had said that it spends millions each year on marketing the country’s rice.

GRDB General Manager Jagnarine Singh had related that it was never one of the board’s responsibilities to find markets for rice.

However, he added as time passed, the board spearheaded the inking of a contract between the Venezuelan and Guyanese governments to have rice exported to the neighbouring South American country.

Singh further related then that an even larger percentage of funds received by the board goes into research and development.

He noted that the research station is currently working on several new measures which will bring change to the rice industry, including new varieties of rice.

President Donald Ramotar was quoted recently as lamenting the fact that buyers on the international market are unwilling to pay the demanded price for Guyanese rice.

Singh has explained that increased production has forced the board to source additional markets outside of the Caribbean, Venezuela and Europe.

The GRDB claims to spend $30 million annually to market locally grown rice.

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Seeraj says never claimed Jagdeo cost PPP/C majority

Former President  Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President
Bharrat Jagdeo

More than a week after the Kaieteur News carried an anonymous letter under the caption “PPP needs to break up with Bharrat Jagdeo”, a Central Executive Member named in the controversial missive is distancing himself from the content therein and all references made to him.

People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Executive Dharamkumar Seerai when contacted for a comment on the missive which alleges that he blamed former President Jagdeo for the party losing its majority at the 2011 elections, denied ever making such a statement.

PPP/C Executive Dharamkumar Seeraj

PPP/C Executive Dharamkumar Seeraj

He said while he was not in the habit of responding to anonymous letters, based on his recollection of the missive, “I never said that Jagdeo’s mansion or pension caused the PPP/C to lose anything or its plurality after the elections.”

“I will go further to say that I never sought any position with the Government. I was never promised any position with the Government by any President or any Presidential Candidate, Minister or any persons in the Government,” he explained. He made it absolutely clear that he did not have any problem with Jagdeo or decisions he made while he was President.

Again expressing concern over the fictitious letter, Seeraj reiterated that he has no problem with Jagdeo as a politician or Executive of PPP/C as he disassociated himself from the charges made in the letter. “I never said anything about Jagdeo at any meeting or any forum,” he reiterated.

The allegation first surfaced on the “Conversation Tree” blog of former PPP/C Ex-Co member Ralph Ramkarran back in March 29, 2014, under the heading “The Jagdeo Challenge” : “…as one comrade told him (Jagdeo) immediately after the elections in 2011, ‘it was your mansion and pension that caused the loss.’ The comrade, deprived of high office as a consequence…”

The anonymous letter used the exact phraseology as above, but explicitly named Seeraj as the accuser.

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State witness recounts accused’s chilling confessions

Accused: Bibi Gopaul

Accused: Bibi Gopaul

Neesa Gopaul trial:

By Vahnu Manikchand

“Gopaul reportedly related to De Nobrega that “Barry” then took Neesa out the car and she fell on her knees crying and in a dull voice was saying: “Mary [ calling to her sister who was asleep in the car]! Mary! Wake up!”. At this point “Barry”, the witness related, took a piece of wood out from the trunk of the car and began hitting Neesa on her head until she was not moving anymore. The woman reportedly told the witness that the last sound she heard from her daughter was a moaning sound and after “Barry” was done, he put her lifeless body in the trunk of the car and they drove back to the West Coast where she dropped him off at the junction at Vreed-en-Hoop and she proceeded to her home…”

The murder of West Coast Demerara teenager Neesa Gopaul back in 2010 was a well-planned attack orchestrated by the child’s mother and her lover, a state witness told a High Court trial on Thursday, detailing a chilling confession made by Bibi Gopaul to her while the two of them were locked up in the East La Penitence Police Station cell.

Murdered Nessa Gopaul

Murdered Nessa Gopaul

Gopaul and her lover, Jarvis “Barry” Small are indicted with the murder of Neesa, which they allegedly committed between September 24 and October 2, 2010, at the Emerald Tower Resort, Madewini, Linden/Soesdyke Highway.

Taking the stand for the first time, State witness, Simone Diane De Nobrega called Simone King, a convicted fraudster narrated a lengthy testimony of Gopaul’s confession to her beginning with her allegedly poisoning her husband to get close to Small and the eventual slaying of Nessa in an attempt to cover her tracks.

De Nobrega told the court that one night in the cold East La Penitence cell, Gopaul opened up to her relating that after her husband passed away, Small began visiting her at home and would often sleep over. De Nobrega said the woman related to her that suddenly Neesa and the man started getting along well and whenever her teenage daughter was around, Small would be mean to her but would act normal when she was not. Gopaul confided in her (De Nobrega) that Small told her that Neesa wanted to be with him. The witness said that the woman was stressed out and depressed hence Small gave her some medication to help her relax. He also told her that one day she should lie in bed pretending to be asleep and he would prove how much Neesa wanted him. However, she made him promise that he would not touch her daughter.

Accused: Jarvis “Barry” Small

Accused: Jarvis “Barry” Small

The witness related that when the teen entered the room, Gopaul said she appeared “groggy” and was dancing taking off her clothes, but Small kept his promise and did not touch her. According to De Nobrega said Gopaul went on to say that Small informed her that Neesa had told him that she overheard her mother telling someone on the phone that she (Gopaul) poisoned her husband. She said too that the teen had even made a report at the station, but was asked to return with her mother.

Sell her for $2M

The witness said that Gopaul told her that one day in anger, Neesa confronted her about it. De Nobrega added that her former cellmate said to her Small had told her that Neesa was getting out of hand and they should get rid of her, because she could cause trouble for both of them and suggested that they sell her to his friend in Venezuela for $2 million. However, this option was ruled out because the couple reasoned that Neesa would return when she turned 18.

Small then suggested, De Nobrega related, that they should take the teenager to the Linden/Soesdyke Highway where they burn coals and pushed her over, but Gopaul told De Nobrega that she did not like the idea as she was afraid that her daughter and then lover would turn on her and pushed her over instead. De Nobrega continued her testimony saying that Gopaul related that one night she got up to get some water and found Neesa and Small in a compromising position and as a result, she went to get a knife. She later got into a scuffle with Small during which his hand was cut. Gopaul told her cellmate that Neesa then intervened and was also injured. She reportedly ran out of the house and went to the home of the man’s wife. Gopaul told De Nobrega after stitching his hand Small went looking for the teenager and found her at his wife’s house, but instead of taking her home, he took her to a hotel.

The next day Gopaul said during an argument Small hit her with a phone on her head and Neesa seemed to be happy about it. Then Small told her that the teenager was causing too much trouble and she should “join her father”, De Nobrega stated. According to the witness, the woman disclosed that Small would come up with perfect plans but never had any back-up for the outcome. De Nobrega said she was told that a few days later, Gopaul took her daughters out and picked up Small at the Vreed-en-Hoop junction in a car. She said he was sitting in the back of the car with her younger daughter Mariam and they went to Royal Castle and then to the seawall, the witness recalled being told.

“Mommy! Mommy! Don’t kill me”

De Nobrega further stated that Gopaul had told her that they went up to the Soesdyke/Linden Highway and while in the vicinity of Splashmin’s, Small began choking Neesa, who was sitting in the front seat. “She said “Barry” placed a rope around Neesa’s neck. She said Neesa held on to the rope saying “Mommy, Mommy don’t kill me”,” the witness told the court, while adding that Gopaul said the teen began fight, kicking the dashboard and the steering wheel so she wound up the window and turned on the air conditioner.

The witness added that the woman told her that Mariam was at the time sleeping. According to the witness, Gopaul told her that she turned into the trail to Emerald Tower Resort, which she is familiar with since they used to go there a lot and it was Neesa’s favourite place. Gopaul confided in De Nobrega that she drove about a mile in and then “Barry” got up and Neesa held on to the rope panting for breath. Small then came out of the car, the woman told her cellmate, and she turned up the music so that her younger daughter would not wake up. She then exited the vehicle to watch out to see if anyone was around.

Gopaul reportedly related to De Nobrega that “Barry” then took Neesa out of the car and she fell on her knees and in a dull voice was saying “Mary! Mary! Wake up”. At this point Small, the witness related she was told, took a piece of wood from the trunk of the car and began hitting Neesa on her head until she was not moving anymore. Gopaul reportedly told the witness that the last sound she heard from her daughter was a moaning sound and after Small was done, he put her lifeless body in the trunk of the car and they drove back to the West Coast where she dropped him off at the junction at Vreed-en-Hoop and she proceeded to her home.

Confronted by wife of “Barry”

However, Gopaul related to her cellmate that when she got home, the wife of her lover was there and threatened to go to the Police with tapes she had of her and “Barry” talking about her poisoning her husband if she did not leave her husband alone. Gopaul told the witness that she got down on her knees and begged the woman not to cause a commotion or the Police would come, and also agreed to stay away from “Barry”. After the woman left, Gopaul told De Nobrega, Small called to find out if she was okay and told her that Mariam had opened her eyes while he was killing Neesa but then she went back to sleep. According to the witness, Gopaul said that Small told her if Mariam had gotten up then, they would have had to get rid of her also.

Body in car trunk

The following morning, Gopaul told De Nobrega that she went downstairs to check on Neesa’s body and used a piece of stick to poke the body to ensure that she was dead. The woman said that she later took Mariam to her parents and then filed a missing person’s report at the Police Station after which “Barry” told her to get a sheet, a suitcase and Neesa’s Passport along with her Early Savers bank card so that it would look like she ran away and then they drove up to the highway at mid-night.

Small had reportedly taken his dumbbells and a rope, Gopaul had disclosed to the witness, and they then wrapped the body in the sheet and put it in the bag along with the documents and Small went into the creek where he tied the rope to the weights and then to the bag before letting it sink and covering it with weeds.

Gopaul reportedly returned home and cleaned the car, then took it to a wash bay. Small then told her to go buy some fresh meat and leave it in the car for two days to cover up any evidence left there. The accused woman told De Nobrega that she gave Small the power of attorney to her property because he said Neesa had told him her father left a large amount of money for her and her little sister. The witness said that the woman further confided in her that Small told her to pack their suitcases as they would go to Suriname in case the Police suspected anything. However, one day while packing, a Police officer showed up and told her that they found Neesa’s body and she should go to identify it.

De Nobrega told the court that she decided to tell the Police what her cellmate confided in her, because she has two sons whom she has to protect and could not carry that weight of what she was told, stating that no matter what Neesa did, she did not deserve to be killed by someone she trusted.

The witness then turned to Gopaul sitting in the dock and said, “Neesa deserved to get justice. Neesa didn’t deserve to die by the hands of someone who supposed to protect her.” The witness went on to tell the court that she was in the lock-ups at the time for a number of fraudulent offences and was sentenced to five years in her absence, because she never returned to court for her trial, as she was threatened by persons associated with this case. On Thursday morning, the woman turned herself in to Police before testifying in court.

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WCD man dies in Parika lock-ups

Dead: Zaharudeen Rozan

Dead: Zaharudeen Rozan

… Police launch probe, family seeks justice  

By Bhisham Mohamed

A carpenter was on Wednesday morning found dead in the Parika Police Station lock-ups after he was reportedly beaten hours after being arrested and taken into custody following a report of damage to property against him.

The discovery was made around 08:45h by Police ranks who went to conduct routine checks on prisoners.

The dead man has been identified as Zaharudeen Rozan, 38, formerly of Lot 18 Hague Back, West Coast Demerara (WCD) and of Cornelia Ida Housing Scheme, WCD.

Police in an initial statement said that the man was found lying on the floor of the lock-ups and was still alive, but this might not have been the case since reports reaching this newspaper suggested that the man was already dead.

Police ranks at the detention facility remained tight-lipped about the incident.

The fence which was allegedly damaged by the now dead man

The fence which was allegedly damaged by the now dead man

The death of Rozan comes in wake of renewed criticisms of the way the Guyana Police Force and the Police Service Commission handled the recent promotions of two officers who were charged for allegedly torturing a teenage boy back in 2009.

Regarding Rozan, the Guyana Times understands that there were about three other prisoners in the lock-ups and they are being grilled by a team of investigators who travelled up to the Police station.

In addition, the man might have been crying out for pain, but was reportedly ignored by the ranks on duty.

Following the discovery, Rozan was reportedly left for well over an hour before he was taken to the Leonora Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The Police stated that the man was arrested on Tuesday evening about 21:10h following a report of damage to property that was made against him.

At the time of his arrest, this newspaper understands that the man was manhandled by the Police after he resisted arrest. Rozan was reportedly under the influence of alcohol at the time.

At the home of the dead man, his mother, Raimoon Rozan, told the Guyana Times that her family was informed of her son’s death about 16:30h by a group of Police officers who visited their house.

She said that the Police questioned her about her son. She said the lawmen told her that Rozan was arrested on Tuesday evening and while in custody, he hit his head on a metal pole and subsequently died.

She admitted that her son was a heavy drinker and normally got into trouble. She went on to say that her son worked with them on the rice field, but left after he started to drink heavily.

The woman further disclosed that after he left home, he drove a minibus and then worked as a carpenter.

The man’s wife, Swabera Hussein, explained that they separated well over a year ago. Their union produced three children aged 13, 10 and seven. She stated that she accompanied one of her children on a school tour and upon their return, she received the devastating news from her brother-in-law.

Initially, she was told that her husband met in an accident and died, but later she learnt that he was arrested and placed in the lock-ups.

Damaged fence

The neighbour whose fence was allegedly damaged said that he was not at home but received a telephone call from a friend who told him that Rozan was “rocking” the gate to get into the yard.

During the commotion, a few staves broke and a neighbour summoned the Police. It was at this point, Rozan was allegedly beaten and thrown into the Police truck which sped away.

This incident comes less than five months after a father of four died following an alleged beating by Police ranks at the Leonora Police Station.

Asif Raheem Khatoon, 38, of Lot 102 Meten-Meer-Zorg, WCD, died as a result of injuries he reportedly received while in Police custody. Khatoon was arrested after his wife lodged a report of domestic violence.

After his apprehension, the Police ranks reportedly gave him a sound thrashing. The injured man was thrown into the lock-ups, but was released a few days later without being charged or placed before the court.

While at home, Khatoon cried out for pain and was taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) where he was admitted due to the extent of his injuries. However, he took self-discharge and went home.

He died moments after returning home from the medical facility.

A Post-Mortem Examination revealed that he died as a result of multiple injuries to his neck and body.

According to the report, the man suffered a broken jaw and a ruptured ligament in his throat.

In addition, the autopsy performed by Dr Nehaul Singh also revealed that Khatoon received severe injuries to his chest which resulted in a massive blood clot forming in his body.

The matter was investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) but nothing has come out of the matter.

In the case of Rozan, the Police in a release stated that an investigation has been launched into the man’s death by the OPR.

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Govt to toughen stance against companies siphoning off workers’ NIS, PAYE

Minister of Labour, Dr Nanda Gopaul speaking at FITUG’s Fifth Delegates’ Conference

Minister of Labour, Dr Nanda Gopaul speaking at FITUG’s Fifth Delegates’ Conference

By Devina Samaroo

Minister of Labour, Dr Nanda Gopaul and President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), Carvil Duncan on Monday flayed employers who default on remitting their workers’ National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and tax deductions.

They threatened that serious action would be taken against those in breach.

Almost daily retired Private Sector workers complain of missing NIS contributions owing to their former employers’ failure to remit their contributions that were deducted. Only recently, one of the country’s top corporations – the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) – admitted to failing to remit over $1 billion in NIS contributions for its workers. The Corporation later said it was in the process of working out an arrangement to make the payments.

FITUG President Carvil Duncan

FITUG President Carvil Duncan

Both Duncan and Gopaul were at the time addressing the opening session of the FITUG’s Fifth Delegates’ Conference at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre (Red House), Kingston. In addition to NIS and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions, Duncan made reference to the non-remittance of union dues and also some employers resisting trade unions’ rights to organise their workers. “We have encountered serious difficulties by some employers who have been resisting trade unions’ rights to organise their workers, and on the other hand, who have been collecting workers’ dues and not handing it over to the trade unions,” Duncan, who also heads the Guyana Labour Union, said. He reaffirmed that employers should not be allowed to breach the laws, and stringent action must be taken to ensure they accordingly comply and discontinue the defiance against trade unions.

Dissatisfaction

On the issue of workers’ deductions not being remitted to the respective authorities, such as the NIS and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) for PAYE tax, Minister Gopaul expressed his deepest dissatisfaction about the situation. “Any employer who fails to deduct and remit to the Guyana Revenue Authority should face the full force of the law,” he declared.

In further venting his disgust at the situation, the Minister speculated that employers use workers’ money for personal benefit or to reinvest into their entities instead of remitting the deductions to the respective agencies.

On that note, Dr Gopaul also pointed out that while some employers comply with that requirement, they were not timely in doing so, and as such, workers were unable to immediately access their benefits. “NIS benefits should be remitted to NIS so workers can have their protection and sickness benefits immediately upon filing a claim,” the Minister noted. He said more stringent measures must be in place to stop this “bad management practice”.

“This practice must be brought to an end and employers must be prosecuted,” the Minister exclaimed.

He also highlighted that the manner in which management would terminate an employee’s employment was a grave concern. The Minister opined that employers sometimes dismiss an employee without paying his/her required benefits – another violation of the law. Nonetheless, with the Ministry’s intervention, Dr Gopaul is optimistic the situation will improve. “Last year, we tripled the amount of benefits made payable by employers for violating these laws. In the past, we used to collect an average of $16 million; last year, we collected in excess of $50 million on behalf of workers who have been victimised.”

Late January after it was exposed that GuySuCo owed some $1.5 billion to the NIS, the Corporation responded by saying that the Scheme will be honouring all outstanding claims made by sugar workers despite the company having not paid over millions in workers’ contributions to the state-run social security agency.

According to a release from the Corporation back then, NIS had “instructed all its local offices to honour all legitimate claims for benefits submitted by sugar workers”. GuySuCo had stated that its officials had met with NIS officials and worked out a payment schedule for all outstanding contributions.

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