Gang member’s cross-examination continues
Bartica massacre trialCelbert Reece, the self-confessed member of the infamous gang that carried out the 2008 Bartica Massacre, continued to be cross-examined at the High Court in Demerara.Taking the stand on Monday morning, he faced Defence Counsel Saphier Hussain, who is representing co-accused Dennis Williams, whom Reece identified as being part of the criminal gang that executed the attack which saw the slaughter of three Policemen and nine civilians on February 17, 2008.At Monday’s hearing, Reece stated that he was never convicted of any crime prior to the Bartica incident. Grilled by Attorney Hussain, the State witness reiterated that he had not been armed at the time of the attack, further adding that he also told Police rank “Reid” that he did not kill anyone.The defence counsel then suggested that Reece “had no reason” to plead guilty and made the jarring accusation that his pleading guilty was a “concoction” to give evidence in the case.Under the direction of presiding Judge Roxane George, SC, the State witness clarified that he decided to plead guilty following a discussion with his attorney.“I told my lawyer I wanted to plead guilty,” the self-confessed gang member told the 12-member jury.Although Reece’s response was determined to be clear, Hussain made several attempts to ascertain if there was any plea deal with the State, but the court overruled his line of questioning on the basis of irrelevance. He was also warned against making “improper suggestions” against State Prosecutor Diana Kaulesar.Meanwhile, as the Attorney moved on with his cross-examination, he asked the witness how long he had known the gang leader Rondell “Fineman” Rawlins.“I get to know him when I picked him up at East Coast,” Reece noted, adding that “Fineman” had contacted his cousin, fellow convict Michael Caesar. Reece also stressed that in his presence, there was no meeting, discussion or plan prior to theMurder accused Celbert Reece was sentenced to 420 years in November 2016Bartica Massacre.Reece further clarified that “Fineman”, who used a “45 hand gun”, was the only person who shot the men at the Bartica Stelling.The matter was adjourned until this morning at the High Court where Attorney Hussain will conclude his cross-examination of the witness.Reece was sentenced to 420 years total imprisonment, while his cousin, Michael Caesar was handed a 1080-year cumulative sentence. The men, along with co-accused Mark Royden Williams, Dennis Williams and Roger Simon, were allegedly part of the “Fineman” gang which attacked the town and fatally shot 12 persons. Among those killed were Police Lance Corporal Zaheer Zakir and Constables Shane Fredericks and Ron Osborne. Edwin Gilkes, Dexter Adrian, Irving Ferreira, Deonarine Singh, Ronald Gomes, Ashraf Khan, Abdool Yasseen, Errol Thomas and Baldeo Singh were the civilians killed.