The Region 10 residents reported to the Office of the President where they had been invited to uplift the pay-out and were accompanied by Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon.
At a news conference called afterward Solomon said they had entered a “new phase” of their struggle for justice since the victims signed for the payments under duress.
“Persons who entered to sign in receipt of payments were told that they’re not allowed to leave with statements that they signed to and they all signed stating clearly that they object to what they were signing to as they were not prepared to sign without understanding.”
Solomon said the objections were done verbally since the residents were not allowed to state them on the vouchers they signed. He added that they were told that they would not be paid if they refused to sign and they did so with the understanding that the region would pursue further action.
“They were paid in cash so deliberately to induce not only the excitement but the anxiety of the people who were receiving the payments. It was to put them under stressful condition where you either take this or if you don’t sign you wouldn’t get it.”
Asked why they turned up to accept the pay-outs having been previously informed about the sums of the awards the chairman said the people were entitled to that money having already suffered.
“It is an understanding that this is owed to those victims who suffered, they have medical expenses and this is almost a year,” the chairman said.
The families of the men killed – Shemroy Bouyea, Ron Somerset and Allan Lewis – were not among those receiving pay-outs Wednesday morning. Solomon explained that they were told that they needed to produce Letters of Administration to show the rightful heirs of the men’s estates.
According to the Region 10 Chairman, the damages awarded by the Commission did not constitute “just compensation” and he called for the release of the formula used by the Commissioners to arrive at the pay-outs.
He added that the RDC at the request of the victims would be pursuing “all legal options” to secure better compensation with the next move being to get their attorneys involved to examine the options.
The Commisison had initially suggested GUY$1M for the estate of 18-year-old Somerset which it then revised to GUY$2M. Awards of GUY$3M each were suggested for the families of Lewis and Bouyea.
Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon in March said the government was inclined to go with the figures suggested.