Mar 11, 2016 News
“I think the devil was busy that day” – says other inmate
By Romila Boodram
Standing before an extremely quiet gathering, two inmates yesterday presented their testimonies to the
Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the Camp Street Prison riot which claimed the lives of 17 prisoners last week Thursday.
Dressed in yellow t-shirts and black pants with matching rubber slippers, the men, both of whom are accused of murder, stood before the Commissioners and related their versions of what transpired on that day.
Taking the stand first was Capital A Block inmate, Dwayne Lewis, who has been in the facility for the past eight months.
While under oath, the prisoner told the commissioners that he was packing his “things” to exit the division when the prison wardens locked the door from the outside. The fire later started in the centre of the division.
He could not say how the fire started but claimed that it escalated when tear gas was thrown into the room from the outside.
“When the fire started, the prisoners start breaking the wall from Division A to go to Division B.”
Lewis recounted that as the prisoners were trying to break the wall to escape; six cans of tear gas were thrown into the building. “It started to burn our eyes and skin. We run to a small ventilated area and started calling for help.”
He said that as they were screaming for help, they got no response from the authorities. “The fire started to get bigger and bigger and took over the whole cell, causing some of the inmates to be badly burn up.”
Lewis said that he ran to the front entrance and continued calling out for help.
“I saw the hole in the wall with fire blazing around it and I made my escape through it. I came out through
Capital B Division and I walk down the step and I was escorted to the hospital.”
He said that while crawling through the hole, he was burnt on his abdomen. The witness stated that up until his escape, the prison administration made no attempt to put out the fire.
Lewis told the Commissioners that before the fire started, there was an order for the prisoners to come out of the division for a search to be conducted. He said that when the first set of prisoners followed the wardens’ order, they were harassed and beaten with a baton, forcing the others to stay in the division.
Lewis said that when the prisoners refused to leave the division out of fear of being harassed, the door was locked by the wardens. He said that is when the fire started and it got bigger when the tear gas was thrown into the building.
He maintained that he had no idea how the fire started, since he was asleep.
Recalling the origin of the unrest, Lewis said that on March 2nd, last, there was a search at the Division and items were confiscated.
“During the search, we pick up our belongings and they (wardens) went in and come out with two buckets with phones, leaves, seeds and stems suspected to be marijuana,” Lewis explained.
He said that when the prisoners returned to the Division, some of them who lost items were in a grievous state but did not protest or create any issues.
Asked why the prisoners needed marijuana, Lewis responded, “They have to get it to be calm and comfortable so that it won’t have riots.” He said that the prisoners “need dem
things to smoke” to keep them in order.
When questioned if the prison wardens found anything like liquor, Lewis said that the prisoners make their own local alcohol.
He did admit that some prisoners were annoyed, but they stayed calm.
“Look, if dem find 10 phones, they could at least keep six and leave four.”
According to Lewis, none of the confiscated items belonged to him. He did admit to the commissioners that he smokes in prison.
Errol Kesney was the second witness to take the stand and deliver his testimony which was somewhat similar to that of Lewis.
Asked what transpired on that day, Kesney said, “I think the devil was busy that day.”
He said that when they were ordered to leave the building, he was packing his bag and when he was ready to leave, the door was already locked.
“I see some man start breaking the hole to jump out and crawl through, but when we see Mr. Samuels in Capital B, we jump over back.” He said that it was at this point that he saw the fire in Capital A which later escalated with the tear gas.
“I run at the back. (Now dead inmate Rayon) Paddy say is gas they throwing and he tell us to stay low and wet we jersey,” Kesney explained. He added that at this point, the entire building was engulfed in smoke.
Kesney told the commissioners that he saw Paddy’s skin as it burnt off his body. He stressed that he (Kesney) stayed low until he was rescued by other inmates.
Asked what they would like to see differently, the men said that they want the men who prepare their food to dress better and wear clean clothing.
Lewis said that he would like to see the prison authorities apply all the rules that are in the book to the prisoners in terms of the way they are treated.
The COI, being presided over by Chairman Justice James Patterson, and Commissioners Mrs. Merle Mendonca and Mr. Dale Erskine, will continue today at 10:00 hrs.
Apr 21, 2021Kaieteur News – Pomeroon and E’bo Coast XI will face off today at Jacklow in an U19 limited overs fixture. The game which is being sponsored by Devon Ramnauth is expected to commence at...
Apr 21, 2021
Apr 21, 2021
Apr 21, 2021
Apr 21, 2021
Apr 21, 2021
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – As undesirable as it may be, governments of Caribbean countries that are not... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]