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Family wants answers on lock-ups hanging

The family of Deodat ‘Ramesh’ Persaud, who hung himself in the Number 51 Police station lock-ups on Wednesday, said that they were not allowed to see him since he returned from Suriname and so are in the dark as to why he jumped off the fishing vessel that he was working on.

Meantime, the police said yesterday that the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is investigating the circumstances surrounding the 45-year-old fisherman’s death. Persaud of Number 4 Settlement, Blairmont, Berbice was found hanging in the lock-ups at the No. 51 Police Station, Corentyne, at about 5:40pm on Wednesday, the police said in a statement.

The statement said investigations revealed that on February 10 Persaud had left in the company of three others in a boat from Meadow Bank Wharf to go to Suriname to fish.  The other three men returned to Guyana on February 24 and said that he had left the fishing boat while it was in Suriname, the police said. Subsequently, the statement went on to say, on February 25 Persaud’s brother Jagnandan Persaud reported him as missing to the lawmen at the Beterverwagting Police Station. In conducting investigations, they arrested three crew members.

The police said that consequently, relatives of the three arrested crew members went to Suriname where they located Persaud and they all returned to Guyana on Tuesday and reported to the Police at Springlands Police Station where the man “presented himself as being alive and well”. Checks of the records revealed that he was a suspect in a break and enter and larceny committed on fisherman Vishunlall Teeklall at his home at No. 65 Village, Corentyne, between November 12 and 26, 2008 and as a result he was arrested and placed in custody at the Springlands Police Station, the statement said.

It went on to say that on Wednesday, Persaud was transferred to the No. 51 Police Station which was dealing with the matter and was placed in the lock-ups at 2:50 pm. Routine visits, the statement said, were made to the lock-ups and at 5:40 pm on Wednesday when ranks were in the process of taking meals for him, Persaud “was found hanging by his jersey from the metal ventilation of the lock-ups.”

“The body was examined and no marks of violence were seen on the exposed parts of the body except for marks around the neck believed to have been caused by the jersey that was tied around it. The scene was photographed by the police”, the statement said adding that the body is at the Skeldon Hospital mortuary awaiting a post-mortem examination.

Yesterday Persaud’s brother,  Jagnandan also called ‘Rajin’ said that when relatives went to visit his brother at the Skeldon lock-ups on Wednesday, they were not allowed to see him and so they did not know why he jumped off the boat in Suriname. “Me brother is not a criminal, not a murderer…they never get to see he, they never get to talk to he”, an upset Jagnandan said. He said that even though the relatives waited for several hours, they were not allowed to speak to Persaud and when they left, they received a call that Persaud had hung himself.

He said that the matter should be investigated.

Another relative said that he had seen the body and there appeared to be no marks of violence. He said that he had learnt that Persaud was alone in the lock-ups. On Wednesday, Jagnandan had said that relatives wanted the authorities to look into the matter and wanted an immediate investigation.

“Something got to be done”, he had asserted. Yesterday, other relatives said that they were satisfied that the police had nothing to do with Persaud’s death and they had received full cooperation from the lawmen.

Persaud is the second person to die in the lock-ups for this year. Last month, on February 10, Mahendra Seenarine had been found hanging in the La Grange lock-ups after being arrested and a post-mortem examination had revealed that he died from asphyxiation due to hanging.

Seenarine, 38, and a labourer of Good Land, Canal Number One, West Bank Demerara was discovered hanging in his cell at the lock-ups around 9:30 pm on that date, during a routine check, the police had said at the time.