Guyana arson suspect in in police custody

Guyanese police this week said they have arrested the prime suspect in a mid-2009 fire that flattened the health ministry and are blaming the same group for fire bomb attempts on several other state buildings, including a police stations and a school.

Assistant Police Commissioner and Chief Detective Seelall Persaud said Colin Jones, 34, one of the suspects long identified by police for alleged involvement in the ministry fire, has reportedly confessed to being part of a gang that committed the acts in the past two years, and officials have not ruled out charging him under recently approved state terrorism laws that demand life in prison, among other penalties.

Jones was last week wounded in a shootout with police in the southwestern bauxite mining community of Linden, 70 miles from the capital, and has since taken authorities to jungle training camps, handed over rifles, grenades and ammunition and has allegedly confessed to killing two other gang members in recent weeks in the aftermath of personal disagreements.

“We are in the process of collecting evidence,” Persaud said as the work week started. “Jones was one of these we had as a suspect in the ministry fire. We are getting legal advice as to how to move forward in this case.”

Police had blamed the gang for arson attempts at on a high school and two police stations and for at least one carjacking attempt.

They are also looking for a former army lieutenant believed to be the mastermind of the attacks on the state facilities, Persaud said.

Detectives also say they are running through names and telephone numbers of people believed to be associated with criminal gangs as far back as the carnival daybreak in early 2002 that triggered mayhem in the country, leading two 410 killings in that and the following year.

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