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President, Opposition Leader appeal for calm in wake of killing of cousins in West Berbice backlands

Last Updated on Monday, 7 September 2020, 6:57 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali .

President Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon Sunday night appealed for peace and calm and for them to allow police to probe the brutal slaying of two youths who had trekked from their home village to Cotton Tree Village, West Coast Berbice to pick coconuts to sell.

“Whilst we await the swift work of the police to bring those responsible to justice, I urge residents from the communities to be patient and support the police in ensuring justice is served.

I ask you to act lawful and responsible in demonstrating your anger and hurt. As President, I can understand the emotions but I ask that the police be given an opportunity to do their job,” the President said.

Similarly, in a separate statement, Opposition Leader Harmon urged grieving residents to allow the police to do its work. “We recognize and understand the pain, anger and anguish the relatives and villagers of No. 3 Village (where the boys are from) are experiencing at this time. I call on them to remain vigilant but to allow the police to conduct their investigation in a timely manner,” said Mr. Harmon, a practising Attorney-at-Law and retired army officer.

A coconut farmer has since been arrested and traces of what appeared to be blood found on his premises at Cotton Tree Village.

For several hours, angry residents burned tires, wood and other items as well as shoved old vehicles and other objects at Number 5 Village Public Road, West Coast Berbice after the bodies of 18-year old Joel Henry,a labourer and 16-year old Isaiah Henry, a student of Lots 26 and 32 Number 3 Village, West Coast Berbice were found in the backlands of Cotton Tree.

Saying that he received news of the “senseless murders” of the Henrys, the President said he has since spoken to the Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and Commissioner of Police Nigel Hoppie “urging them to deploy all needed resources to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Joseph Harmon

“We cannot and would not tolerate this type of brutality in our communities and country. I can understand the pain of the families and community and my prayers and thoughts are with you,” said Mr. Ali.

Amid concerns by sections of the media that police was slow in releasing information about the incident although the bodies had been discovered since 3:30 PM, by official account, the President said  he has asked “for a constant update on the progress of the investigation by the Police to be shared with the media, community and country.”

The Opposition Leader, however, said he was disappointed that the Police Commissioner has said he would be unable to meet with him until September 11 instead of September 7. Mr. Harmon called on the police to conduct a thorough probe with the aim of slapping murder charges on those culpable.  “The APNU+AFC Coalition calls for an immediate, full and thorough police investigation into this heinous crime and the apprehension of the killers without any delay. We commit to doing everything necessary to ensure that justice is served in this matter to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Mr. Harmon said he was “sickened and horrified by the gruesome killing of two young boys” who are cousins and that he would be visiting the village on Monday.  “Today marks another horrific and tragic day in our beloved country with two boys senselessly cut down in the prime of their youth,” he said.