– Committee established to probe events
A total of 32 inmates (24 male and eight female) have been arrested following Thursday night’s rampage at the New Opportunity Corps (NOC), Essequibo Coast, which leveled a dormitory and tailor shop.
A government delegation which journeyed to the location yesterday also announced the establishment of a committee to investigate what triggered the events that led to a mass break-out on Wednesday evening and the stand-off Thursday night which led to sections of the facility being set alight.
There are now allegations of beatings of inmates and of one female being made pregnant by a NOC staffer.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, who was among the officials at the Onderneeming facility, during a press briefing, explained that work is being done to determine the terms of reference on the special committee before the probe can begin.
Kaieteur News was told that the juveniles had been complaining about food and other issues, and the situation reached breaking point this week.
According to an official, one female alleged that she had warned police on Thursday that some of her colleagues were planning to torch the facility, but that no one took her seriously. However, police have reportedly denied receiving this information.
Police officials yesterday revealed that 24 males and eight female inmates were in custody. While Minister Anthony could not immediately say yesterday what may have fuelled the dangerous stand-off during which police fired warning shots, he disclosed that from initial statements of NOC staffers, it has been suggested that since the banning of corporal punishment, inmates of the facility had become hard to control.
The Minister said that the police will maintain a presence until normality has been restored at NOC. The inmates have now been placed under severe restrictions.
With regards to the damage caused by Thursday night’s conflagration, Anthony explained that all of the equipment housed at the tailor shop has been completely destroyed.
That facility as well as the female dorm will have to be completely dismantled and refurbished with basic household equipment because of the severity of damage sustained.
Anthony said that the fire started sometime after 19:00hrs Thursday but relatively swift action from the fire service at Anna Regina prevented the blaze from spreading to other buildings in the compound.
On Wednesday night over 120 inmates made a daring escape from the holding facility.
It is believed that one of the inmates may have hidden away from the eyes of the security and later broke the locks to the holding areas, freeing his colleagues.
On that evening, officials at NOC had said that most of the children had been accounted for, with some returning voluntarily. Others were captured by police the following day.
It was after they returned on Thursday that things got ugly. Some of them barricaded themselves, setting alight the dorm and tailor shop, which had several bolts of cloth as well as sewing machines and other equipment.
Several inmates armed themselves with cutlasses and other objects, and they kept police officers at bay for several hours before surrendering.
Minister Anthony’s team comprised Permanent Secretary, Alfred King; Assistant Director of Youth, Devenand Ramdatt; Region Two Chairman, Parmanand Persaud; Vice Chairman,Vishnu Samaroo; Administrator, Jagnarain Somwaru and Brian King, an officer at NOC.
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