Last Updated on Monday, 22 May 2023, 4:08 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Sunday appealed for calm and alertness as he called on authorities to answer several questions surrounding the escape of convict Royden “Smallie” Williams from the Mazaruni maximum security prison during an exchange of heavy gunfire between his accomplices.
“The recapture of this mass murderer remains our foremost concern, and we must continue to hold the government accountable for their actions and response in this critical time,” he said in a statement.
So far, a Venezuelan woman, who had moments earlier Friday afternoon visited Williams and a boat captain, along with his both, have been detained. The boat captain claimed he was kidnapped Thursday and held overnight by the gunmen who staged the attack with assault rifles on the jail on Friday afternoon.
Mr Norton appealed to Guyanese to “remain calm and vigilant” as the top priority must be the “swift recapture” of Williams who was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of eight persons during the 2008 Bartica massacre.
The Opposition Leader, who is also Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), called on the Minister of Home Affairs to provide answers to several key questions that have emerged from the escape. Those include who authorised access to the death-sentenced convict against the law, how many prison officers were responsible for transporting the prisoner to and from his holding cell, why was an open vehicle used instead of an enclosed one, where were the Mazaruni Prison boats at that time, and why was a suspicious boat lingering nearby without raising any concerns, what kind of shackles was the prisoner wearing, considering the difficulty of escaping and jumping into a river while being restrained.
Mr Norton also wants to know who was monitoring the conversation between the prisoner and his visitor, and where are the video recordings of the escape. Two prison officers were detained by police for questioning.
“It is imperative that we hold the Minister of Home Affairs accountable for his management of this crisis. Yesterday (Saturday), Robeson Benn’s press conference only reinforced our belief that he is ill-suited to manage the Ministry of Home Affairs and the internal
security of Guyana. It is time for him to step aside and allow the experts to take charge of the sector and recapture this convicted murderer,” he said.
According to the Opposition Leader, he security sector has received substantial funding, with over $85 billion allocated from 2021 until now, including significant investments in the Guyana Prison Service and the Guyana Police Force, amounting to over $16 billion and $58 billion, respectively. In 2023 alone, these two entities have been allocated over $28 billion. “The resources required for the recapture are available, and it is imperative that they are effectively utilized,” he added.
Mr Benn at the weekend said the priority was catching Williams.
The Guyana Police Force has issued a GY$10 million reward for information leading to the capture of the convict.