‘They degraded me’

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…man accused of masterminding arson of GECOM Linden office to sue the state

William Roy Marshall, the 51-year-old driver who was forcefully removed from his Independence Avenue, Mackenzie, Linden home and placed behind bars for well over 72 hours on the suspicion that he was the mastermind behind the fire that destroyed the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Branch Office in Linden, said he will leave no stone unturned in his pursuit for justice.

He has since signaled his intention to seek legal actions against the State for character assassination, wrongful arrest, illegal detention, and more importantly the trauma inflicted on his family.

“Everything that I do, I do it in the name of God and I seek that guidance. But I am not leaving out anything as it relates to my arrest, the manner in which I was arrested, my constitutional rights were very much flouted from the time I was arrested to the time I was released from custody,” Marshall told Village Voice Newspaper while iterating his intention to sue the State.

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He said the trauma inflicted on himself, wife, and two younger children – ages five and eight – remains fresh. “It is gravely affecting my life, and that of my family. My children they are tormented,” Marshall told Village Voice Newspaper while explaining that his daughter and son now have trouble sleeping, and would become hysterical whenever someone raps on the door.

Though close to two months have elapsed since Marshall was accused of committing arson, he has not been charged.
He said this is so because the allegation against him is baseless and without merit.

Recounting the events that unfolded during and after his arrest, Marshal, who is the driver for the Region 10 Chairman, recalled that it was just about 11:20hrs on Thursday, 8th July, 2021 when he heard a loud banging on his door. His two younger children, ages 5 and 8, ran to the front of the house and peeped through the window to see who it was.

“…they ran back frantic, frantic [saying] police, police,” Marshall recalled. He said as the rapping intensified, he too went to ascertain who it was banging on his door. From through the window, he noticed two police officers with “long guns” standing in his yard, five policemen standing on his bridge and a pit-bull bus that the Police Force uses parked on the nearby public road.

Marshall said upon opening his front door, he came face to face with the Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Linden, who asked him to confirm his identity.

“…he said we are here to arrest you. I asked, in connection with what, he didn’t answer,” Marshall recalled while noting that he was not read his rights nor was he informed of the offence before he was handcuffed.

Marshall’s wife also enquired about the offense but instead of a response, she was instructed to hand over his cell phone. It was not long after that Marshall was whisked away in the Police Force’s bus.

He recalled that the bus drove to the Mackenzie Police Station and after a brief conversation between the Head of the CID in Linden and another rank, it proceeded to the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

“I was very scared, very scared…I was very, very, very afraid for my entire life. Because at one point I was saying, these people carrying me on the highway to take me out. That is how far my imagination went,” Marshall said.

Upon seeing the Highway Patrol Base, Marshall became relaxed. “When they turned in there, I realised that they were going to book me there,” he said while noting that it was at that point he learnt of the allegation.

On Friday, 9th July, 2021, the middle-aged man was transported to CID Headquarters in Georgetown. There he saw his sister. Marshall said the presence of his sister at CID Headquarters was a clear indication that the plan he left in place with his wife was implemented.

“Because of the manner in which these police came for me, I left a message in Arabic for a certain individual, who upon interpreting it, knew what he had to do from then,” Marshall said, while adding that the individual along with his two older sons went from police station to police station trying to locate him.

Nonetheless, Marshall on July 9 was grilled about his alleged involvement in the fire, which took place in 2020 following the General and Regional Elections.

During the interrogation, Marshall was shown a video in which 48-year-old Byron Kendall also known as ‘Murgie,’ accused him of facilitating payments for the burning of the building to the tune of $150,000 – allegation he denied. The interrogation continued up until Monday, July 12. He said it was on Monday, July 12, that he was informed that Kendall withdrew his earlier statement but the police had nonetheless indicated that there was a witness, who had further implicated him.

“I said to Mr. Caesar that I was happy that God would have placed in his heart to speak the truth, but after, the individual would have gone to that limit to lie on someone, there is no more credibility you can have in such an individual,” Marshall told this newspaper.

With the stipulated 72 hours long expired, Marshall was placed on $100,000 bail the very day but was mandated to report to the police every Tuesday. He said that it is quite frustrating to be reporting to station on a weekly basis.

“I plan to go to the station next Tuesday and ask them once and for all, what is the position with me and my money and me reporting to the station. I shouldn’t be reporting to no station. I wasn’t charged for any crime,” he said.

He said while a large percentage of Lindeners had thrown their support behind him following his arrest, his name was brought into disrepute. A Muslim for more than 30 years, Marshall said since his arrest he has been sidestepped during certain functions and faces the risk of losing his job.

The husband and father said he was humiliated by the police in front of his family, and his good character brought into disrepute. “The police that came to arrest me, they know the office that I am working in, they didn’t know that they want me 11 o’clock the night, they could have done it in a more polite and professional way,” he posited.

He added: “My arrest alone was very, very, degrading, and the way I was treated by the police in Linden.” While noting that the State will be held accountable, Marshall said Kendall will also be sued.

Marshall said he is uncertain why Kendall implicated him. That aside, he underscored the need for the police officers particularly in Linden to undergo training to aid in a more professional Police Force.

While Marshall is made to report to the police on a weekly basis, three men, accused of setting the GECOM office on fire, have been charged. Teon February of Canvas City, Wismar, Linden; Marlon Hunter of 4th Street Silvertown; and Bryon Kendall were those jointly charged. Kendall reportedly confessed to committing the act.



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