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…Min. Benn calls for an end to violent protest
Commissioner of Police (ag) Nigel Hoppie today disclosed that seven persons are now in police custody as investigation continues into the brutal slaying of the two West Coast Berbice teens, whose mutilated bodies were disclosed last Sunday aback the Cotton Tree Village.
Initially, the owner of a coconut estate was taken into custody. The man’s son and handyman were subsequently arrested.
Addressing the nation via the Guyana Police Force’s Facebook Page in the presence of the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and other senior Police Officials, Commissioner Hoppie said investigators are on the ground actively investigating the murder of the two cousins – Joel Henry, 19 and Isaiah Henry, 15.
He noted, however, that while the police have now arrested a total of seven persons in connect with the double homicide, the protest along the West Coast of Berbice Corridor, is hampering the work of the police.
“As of last night, the roads on the West Coast of Berbice stretching from No. 3 Village to Lichfield Village remained blocked and in some instances re-blocked having being cleared,” he said.
As a consequence, a Joint Services Operation, involving the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defense Force and the Guyana Fire Service, has commenced in the area with the intention of restoring law and order.
“The combined ranks went into action to clear the road of the debris and succeeded in doing so, however, the said roads were re-blocked by residents of the communities. Joint Services Ranks are still on the road working tirelessly to clear the rank of debris to facilitate an unhindered flow of traffic,” the Police Commissioner (ag) reported.
He warned, however, that “as a consequence of these unlawful act, the force will have to take the necessary actions in response.”
Last night (Monday), lawmen fired rubber bullets at protestors while releasing teargas in an attempt to clear the road. This, however, did not weakened resolve of the people.
Minister Benn said the Joint Service Operation is necessary to restore order to the affected villages. According to him, in addition to the blocking of the main thoroughfare, there have been reports of beatings, and destruction of private properties.
“Unfortunately there have been repeatedly incidents where motorists and others have been attacked and their vehicles damaged, robberies of those persons and other unlawful and unruly incidents which in occurring will not bring any calm to the situation and runs the risks of bringing a general descend into lawlessness on the area,” the Home Affairs Minister reported.
He dismissed the motion that the barbaric killing of the two teenage cousins was a race crime, saying that there is no evidence at the moment to suggest same, and Guyanese should desist from race baiting. “I note with some regret the statements from some leading political persons and some agitators, who are characterizing the incident of the death itself without any evidence that it was racially motivated and even worse that certain villages have to take steps to protect themselves in a vigilante mode,” he said noting that the situation is unfortunate.
He is calling on Guyanese and particularly those residing in the affected areas to support the police in their quest to bring the perpetrators to justice. Across the country, Guyanese have expressed outrage over the killing of the two teenagers.
Meanwhile, in Corentyne protests have also erupted over the killing of Orlando Jonas. According to the police, the prime suspect is in custody, assisting with the investigation. The investigation is completed and the file has been sent to the DPP for legal advice.