CJFE Presents New information about the Kaieteur News killings

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Last week the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) reported on the murder of five media workers at the Kaieteur News printing press in Guyana. At the time the motive for the killings was unclear. It now appears that the media workers were not targeted for their work, but may have been the victims of spontaneous gang violence, according to the Kaieteur News. The gang was apparently looking for firearms from security guards in the area.Four members of the gang, including wanted criminal Jermain Charles, age 19, are currently being detained by the police. Two of the men who were arrested with Charles, Gopaul Persaud and Dwight Da Silva, are part of a local gang and have allegedly confessed to other violent crimes in surrounding areas. Some of the gang members are reported to be no more than 12 years old.According to the Kaieteur News, at the time of his arrest, Charles was in possession of a .32 revolver that was reportedly the weapon used in murdering the printing press employees last Tuesday. Mark Maikoo, Eion Wegman, Chetram Persaud, Richard Stewart, and Shazeem Mohamed were shot in the back of their heads. Mohamed, who unlike the others was not killed on the spot, died on August 13, in Georgetown Public Hospital. Security guard Julius Degrace, who was shot in the neck, remains in stable condition.Violence in Guyana has spiked recently in the run-up to the August 28 election. On the same day as the Kaieteur News shootings, similar episodes erupted in the village of Bagotstown and in the Georgetown prison.Though the killings seem not to have been related to the newspaper's work, it has still instilled fear in media organisations in Guyana. Tyrone Ali, Editor at News Today, was reported as saying that the act had grave implications, since it now has some media practitioners being fearful as to when and where a similar act could occur. There appeared to be agreement among media organisations that this attack represents an attack on the freedom of the press and that heightened security at media organisations is necessary.CJFE is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, contact Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 or send an e-mail.

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