The family and supporters of Colwyn Harding, the man who has accused a policeman of raping him with a baton, are trying to have him flown overseas for what is being described as urgent medical care.
Harding, a 23-year-old father of one, was discharged from the Georgetown Hospital on Monday afternoon and was almost immediately taken to a private city hospital where he remains hospitalised.
He has so far undergone two surgeries since his hospitalisation for an incarcerated hernia. Harding may, however, have to seek permission from the court before he is able to travel since he has been charged with assaulting a police officer.
His mother, Sharon Harding told Stabroek News yesterday that her son underwent a medical examination earlier in the day and that the doctor was of the opinion that he should not have been discharged in his present condition. She said that among the things the doctor found was a build-up of faeces near his anus, a situation which could potentially lead to an infection. The woman said that what was discovered yesterday morning “broke my heart.”
Sharon stated that her son is experiencing fever and is in tremendous pain. At the same time, she said that the support for her son has been overwhelming, while noting that persons are still collecting colostomy bags. The bags are needed to collect his bodily waste as his intestines are damaged. Doctors at the Georgetown Hospital have since told him that he would need a third surgery to fix the problem.
The woman said that saying thank you to all those who have offered and are still offering their support is not enough. “I am so grateful… and I will forever be grateful,” she said, before adding that she will continue to fight for justice for her son. “The struggle will go on.”
Asked if she has heard anything further from the police, Sharon responded in the negative. She added that she has no confidence in the investigation that is being done as it is “police investigating police.” The woman said that she believes that there should be an independent investigation with no involvement by the police. In the meantime, a 24-hour vigil at Harding’s bedside is continuing.
Meanwhile, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, speaking at his party’s weekly press conference, said yesterday that he believes Harding’s statements and his party will be supporting APNU’s call for an inquiry into his allegations.
Up to press time last evening, there was still no word from the Guyana Police Force about the investigation, which was to have been completed by Tuesday. Commissioner of Police Leroy Brumell could not be reached for comment.
The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), under the instruction of Brumell, began an investigation just over a week ago. Stabroek News understands that the investigation was completed within the stipulated time and recommendations were made.
It is unclear what the next step is if the investigation has indeed been completed. This newspaper was reliably informed that up to late yesterday afternoon nothing had been sent to the chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for her input.
Harding’s claim is that a constable pushed a condom covered baton up his anus at a house he and his girlfriend were staying at in Timehri. The assault allegedly occurred during the wee hours of November 15 last. It has also been claimed and corroborated by three eyewitnesses so far that Harding was beaten while being detained at the Timehri Police Station. In one case, one eyewitness recalled Harding “blacking out” during one of the beatings. In another case, one of the witnesses had recalled a policeman bringing ice to put on Harding’s body in an apparent effort to reduce the swelling to his body.
What this newspaper gathered is that Harding was beaten over a two-day period before he made his first court appearance. He was charged with assaulting the policeman who he accused of sodomizing him with the baton. He was unable to pay his bail and was transported to the Georgetown Prisons.
On December 13 last, Harding had to be taken to the Georgetown Hospital, where he was examined and diagnosed with an incarcerated hernia. He was referred to the surgery department and was subsequently taken back to the prison. Four days later he had to be rushed back to the hospital after he collapsed. An examination revealed that his condition had worsened and emergency surgery was conducted the following day.
Sharon said that she contacted Brumell via text during the evening on December 13 after seeing her son’s condition. Subsequently, Divisional Commander George Vyphuis and the officer in charge of the sub division in which the Timehri station falls made contact with her. The police have since disputed this, saying that at that point all they knew was that there was a complaint of an assault against a rank but they did not know to what extent until they saw a recording of Harding’s account of what had happened to him. This would have been on January 9 and it would have been Vyphuis who was shown the recording by the man’s mother. The following day, the story was published in the newspaper and within days, the police and the Home Affairs Ministry issued their first statements on the case, which has sparked public outrage.