Mar 04, 2016 News
In the worst prison riot in memory, 17 inmates were killed and at least eight others injured after being trapped in a raging fire in the notorious Capital A Block of the Camp Street Prison.
Confirmed dead are Jermaine Otto, called ‘Fungus’; Rayon Paddy, Sherwin Trotman called ‘Bad Boy’, Anthony Primo called ‘Cruel,’ Shaka Mckenzie, Kirk Clarke, Latchman Partap, Chaitram Dharamdat, Aaron Eastman, Andrew Philander, Randolph Marks, Rohan Teekaran, Hilary Amos, Ashraf Ali, Delroy Williams, Clifton Joseph and Richard Hubbard.
Sixteen of the dead were piled into a truck and taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s mortuary in the afternoon, while Jermaine Otto’s body arrived several hours earlier, with the injured.
The injured included Oswald Yaw, Randolph Marks, Collis Collison, Samuel Beaton, Ignatius France, Andel Forde and Marcellus Verbeke.
Forde and France were admitted to the Burns Care Unit, while Verbeke was admitted to the Male Surgical Unit. Other inmates were reportedly treated for minor injuries and discharged.
Most of those killed were on remand for high-profile killings.
Rayon Paddy and former Guyana Defence Force rank Aaron Eastman were on remand for the murder of security guard Wilfred Stewart at Sterling Products Limited on December 08, 2014, and the execution-style killing of Guyana Geology and Mines Commission employee Trevor Abrams on February 27, 2015.
Jermaine Otto and Travis Mc Dougall were charged for the murder of dredge owner Ashook Ragghu, who was gunned down at a traffic light on Vlissengen Road.
The businessman’s wife, Shyrazadi Ragghu, was also robbed of $4M, but survived after being shot in her upper thigh.
Rohan Teekaram, was on remand for the killing of his brother, who was chopped to death and dumped in a clump of bushes at Kaneville, East Bank Demerara.
Kirk Clarke was awaiting trial for the June 2015 killing of rice farmer Hardat Kissoon, who was gunned down in a minibus plying the University of Guyana (UG) route, during the course of a robbery.
Randolph Marks was on remand for the murder of 57-year-old driver/salesman Bharrat Ramcharan, who was shot dead outside of Patsan Trading Services on John Smith Street, Campbellville.
Latchman Partap was awaiting trial for allegedly shooting his former teenage girlfriend to death at Moraikobai, Mahaicony, while Delroy Williams was accused of killing 17– year–old gold miner, Azad Potter.
The fire is believed to have been started by prisoners who were venting their frustration at what they felt was the inordinate length of time they were on remand while awaiting trial.
Yesterday, as the fire raged, pandemonium erupted outside of the prison as smoke engulfed the area, while scores of concerned relatives and friends of inmates, turned up demanding answers from the authorities who at that time, were still assessing the damage and number of casualties within.
The streets were filled with relatives who stopped anyone in sight just to enquire if their loved ones had perished.
One woman, along with two children, was seen traversing the area asking ranks if her husband had perished in the blaze. She was heard sometime after screaming uncontrollably while her children looked on.
“Y’all father dead! Dem light fire and burn he!”
Soon after, the children were taken away by a relative as others began to console the sobbing woman while she asked, “Wha will happen now? Wha I gah do now?”
Residents also came out demanding that the authorities let them through just to get a glimpse of what was transpiring as ambulances began queuing up to take the injured on board.
As the injured were being taken away by ambulance, commotion ensued as persons aired their concerns as to how the injured men were being handled.
“How dem throwing dem suh in the ambulance? Dem is human beings, y’all take y’all time nuh?” one onlooker said.
The vehicles that were parked on the cordoned off section of the Camp Street Entrance, became higher ground for passersby, media operatives and relatives who pulled and tugged at each other just to get a view.
Within minutes, the roads were rendered impassable and ranks from the Guyana Police Force (GPF) battled to contain the confusion while traffic on route to the prison, was being diverted.
Meanwhile, allegations were being thrown from all corners as bystanders shouted out to media operatives that the “warden dem murder them man in deh”.
“When the fire start I hear dem man hollering in deh. Dem man won’t ah dead if the warden dem de help de rest ah de man dem to out de fire. Is dem jail man dem use bucket and out the fire. The warden dem run way!”
After the dust had settled, some inmates were seen peering through the windows on the southern side of the prison as their family members who were standing along the sidewalks, shouted out asking if they were hurt.
This prompted the men to become vocal and with the media on scene, relatives pressed the men to “talk wha happen”.
The men then began shouting out, “Dem murdering we, dem lock up dem man and beat them. Help! Help! How much dem tell y’all dead? Dem lie, it got a whole van load with bodies in here!”
The inmates’ attention was quickly turned towards the ranks that had formed a human barricade on Durban Street, as they shouted out, “Yall f***ing laugh, first laugh is no laugh, is the last laugh.”
Since all pedestrians were barred from traversing the street surrounding the prison, persons were seen jumping fences; walking through yards while some, tearfully pleaded with the ranks to be given a pass.
The chaos continued at the Georgetown Public Hospital, as the ambulances made repeated trips with badly burned men. Several who had failed to get answers about the fate of their relatives, rushed to the GPHC, where the victims were being taken.
To the frustration of the waiting relatives, police ranks placed a cordon around the perimeter of the Accident and Emergency Unit entrance, blocking relatives and even patients and staffers from entering. Some patients were even ordered to leave the Emergency Unit as the staff worked to save the severely burned men.
One woman, with a large nail stuck in her foot, was one of the patients who was forced to wait outside.
Frustration escalated when a truck bearing the dead eventually arrived with the dead. Again, those who rushed to the mortuary to see if their relatives were among those arriving, found the area blocked by police ranks and a yellow tape.
A few tearful women pleaded with the ranks to allow them to get a glimpse at their loved ones. One woman even broke through the cordon but was escorted back.
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