Donna Liddell, the mother of one of the four prisoners who was burnt and chopped in at New Amsterdam Prison last Friday, is suggesting that prison officers at the facility aided the convict who carried out the attack.
Liddell’s son Kwame Bhagwandin, Abdul-Salam ‘Sato’ Azimullah, 31, of Hampshire, Corentyne and Davendra ‘Bara’ Harricharran, 28 of Nigg, Corentyne and Clarence ‘Wild Hog’ Williams were left hospitalised after the attack, in which another prisoner doused them with a corrosive substance and chopped them with a cutlass.
Liddell accused prison officers of the New Amsterdam Prison of conspiring in the attack, which was carried out by a convicted prison inmate identified only as “Shoulders.”
“Shoulders in the prison and he doing wonders. He working with the prison warder and the prisoners,” Liddell said.
She added that a prison officer is alleged to have taken the acid used the burn the prisoners inside the prison along with the cutlass. She added that her son told her that he had reported what was going on to authorities at the prison but nothing was done.
“The acid was in a bucket and he dip with acid with a cup and sprinkle it on the prisoners and then started to chop the prisoners after them claim say he choked a prison officer and took away the keys to the cell.” Liddell said.
She added that she was told that ‘Shoulders’ had five other accomplices whom he worked with to carry out the attack. The woman also said that ‘Shoulders’ runs an illegal drug trade inside the prison with the cooperation of some of the prison officers, who help to conceal the items from police officers.
Crime Chief Leslie James, when contacted by Stabroek News about the allegations, said he was not knowledgeable of prison officers conspiring with prisoners to attack other inmates. He added that the matter is presently being investigated but at present the four injured inmates are still unable to properly speak and sign documents.
James, however, said that the police have taken statements from inmates who would have witnessed the attack.
When Stabroek News contacted Director of Prisons Welton Trotz, he declined to comment on the matter and said that it is currently in the hands of the police.
Activist Mark Benschop, who has been trying to help the families of the injured prisoners, said it is rather difficult for a prisoner in solitary confinement to be in possession of a cutlass. He said an investigation has to be conducted to determine where the cutlass and acid came from.
He also said that prison officers have to be able to account for the lack of acting on the complaints of the inmates. He said based on the interviews he has conducted with the prisoners and their families, the incident was not a prison brawl. “Charges should be laid on the prisoners and prison officers involved in the attack. It should not have happened!” Benschop said.
Meanwhile, Liddell said her son was faced three break and enter charges, three armed robbery charges and two assault charges on different occasions, dating to January 15 2013.
However, she claimed he was being targeted by a certain cadet officer, who was responsible for the charges. She added that he was bailed on some of the matters but on the last robbery charge, he was placed on $300,000 bail which was subsequently reduced to $240,000.
He was subsequently remanded to prison since the family could not afford to post the bail. “Soon as my son get bailed and he come downstairs, they arresting him for another matter, all am asking for is a trial. Because we can’t find the money, this happened to him,” the woman said.
She added that when she visited her son at the New Amsterdam Hospital following the attack in the prison, she could not recognise him because he was so badly burnt and chopped. Bhagwandin, who worked in the interior, has a pregnant wife and five children, according to his mother.
Liddell and relatives of the other men also complained of being denied visitation to the wounded men at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH) by police officers guarding the prisoners.