Mar 05, 2016 News
Seven inmates were shot even as seven prison wardens were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) when the deadly Camp Street Prison unrest continued yesterday.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who rushed to the scene managed to broker an agreement to halt protest action by the inmates who, around 6:00 hrs, managed to set fire to a wooden building and ruptured the steelworks to gain access to the compound.
The Law enforcement officials were reportedly forced to take drastic action. They used teargas, rubber pellets and bullets to contain the commotion.
The prison wardens, who came in contact with teargas, were identified as Roy Shanks, Jason Maltay, Andrew Moore, Travis Gould, Errol Daphness, June Lewis Charles and Joel Jones.
Prisoners, Shawn Edinboro and Nigel Armstrong, sustained gunshot wounds while Sukdeo Dharamdat, Seon Edwards, Marc Angoy, Davendra Persaud and Floyd Ramit were shot with pellets.
Dharamdat’s son, Chaitram Dharamdat, was killed in the fire on Thursday. He was burnt beyond recognition.
Nigel Anthony Armstrong, 19, an inmate in the Capital block, sustained two gunshot wounds to the left thigh and a third to the right thigh.
Relatives of the injured prisoner alleged that he was shot while trying to flee from the tear gas fumes.
“We got a call that he was at the hospital. They (prison staff) said that he got tear gassed, but when we went at the hospital it was nothing of the sort.”
Armstrong’s girlfriend said that she saw three ‘big holes’ on his thighs.
The prisoner’s relatives complained that rather than have him remain at the hospital, he was taken back to the prison after surgery. They were instructed to purchase an antibiotic medication that was unavailable at the hospital.
Dharamdat, Chaitram and another son, Eshwardat, were on remand for beating another family member, Suresh Nandkishore, to death at Handsome Tree, Mahaica Creek on February 3, 2015.
Four years ago, the six persons from the Dharamdat household were battling for their lives after eating a hassar curry meal which was laced with poison by Sukdeo’s 14-year-old daughter.
Marc Angoy was on remand for fatally shooting his reputed wife’s granddaughter, one-year-old Arian Gill.
Angoy, a former member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) was charged in 1998 for the murder of a man at Twelve and a Half Miles Issano, Mazaruni, Region Seven but he was later acquitted.
Shawn Edinboro, a former police constable, was charged for the murder of taxi driver Raphael Campbell, who was shot and dumped at Liliendaal, East Coast of Demerara.
Seon Edwards was charged with the murder of gold miner, Rawle Peters. Peters was allegedly stabbed to death at Puruni Landing, back in 2010.
Edwards was only captured last year after lawmen tracked him down to where he was selling bottled water in the vicinity of Regent and Hinck Streets, Georgetown.
Floyd Ramit was on remand for the murder of businessman, Farouk Ghanie Persaud, who was killed at his Nandy Park home in April last year.
After the injured were carried to the hospital, an 18-man delegation representing the prisoners was escorted to the Prison Officers’ Sports Club where they met with Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.
During the meeting, Ramjattan expressed condolence to the family and the inmates for the loss of lives. He described the situation as, “most unfortunate.”
Briefing the media after the meeting, Ramjattan explained that several concerns were raised by the inmates and those that can be addressed at the ministerial level will be resolved almost immediately.
According to the Minister, several grievances were raised during the engagement. Among these were the conditions of the prisons, the food provided to the inmates, the treatment meted out by some prison officers and the length of time they spend waiting for their cases to be heard in the courts.
“Those matters that can be dealt with administratively, we are going to deal with them almost forthwith, those that need evidence will be dealt with by the panel of investigators; the Board of Inquiry which will start as soon as possible to hear the complaints of the prisoners,” Ramjattan assured.
Ramjattan is of the view that the engagement with the prisoners was interesting and proved useful for the administration. During the meeting, the Ministers were able to secure the assurance from the inmates that normalcy would be restored
Questioned as to whether the Government will look weak by engaging the prisoners and addressing their issues, the Minister replied “Absolutely not; it is meeting them to meet their demands.
I feel it is a useful thing talking to them and hearing their versions too because indeed they could be speaking to the prison authorities and the prison authorities listening to them and not acting,” he said.
Minister Harmon told the media that he endorsed the views of Minister Ramjattan.
“We believe that this was a very useful engagement and I think it will ensue to the benefit of the whole security situation, not only here in the prison, but in the country because people have families and their families are concerned about what is happening here, and so we believe that was happened here this morning will ease the situation,” he said.
The media has also been identified as one that can contribute to unrests in the prisons. Minister Harmon said that media houses need to report accurately and fairly, “because what is being published is being seen by the prisoners in there and sometimes they are incensed by certain statements in the press,” he stated.
Minister Harmon has committed the Coalition Government to ensuring that the prisoners live and work in decent conditions that should make their lives more comfortable.
“As a government we have to ensure that there are minimum standards which must be met.”
While the Ministers were briefing the media, the chaos in the streets continued where, once again, relatives pleaded with ranks from both the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), for a pass so that they could inquire about their loved ones’ wellbeing.
The ranks standing at the barricades were treated to harsh words, threatening gestures and challenges to fight.
Soon after, a fight broke out between two civilians. Bottles were broken.
The situation came quickly under control after bystanders intervened.
Among the bystanders were former inmates who were quite vocal as they tried to engage media operatives.
The commotion led to many business places closing their doors earlier than usual while several schools in the area, such as Central High, Smith Memorial Primary, Brickdam Secondary and Freeburg Secondary, summoned parents to collect their children.
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