AWOL soldier being held in ‘inhumane conditions’

A rank of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), who was Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and later turned himself in to the army, has complained about beatings and inhumane conditions in a Camp Ayanganna cell, where he has been held for over 30 days.

According to a source within the GDF, Akeem Charles, 21, has been a prisoner in the holding cell for more than a month.

Last night, Colonel, General Staff Bruce Lovell told Stabroek News that he was unaware of the case and that the various activities at the GDF for the Christmas season may have been the reason why the relevant officers could not be contacted by this newspaper.  On Thursday and yesterday, Stabroek News attempted to contact other GDF officials for a response on the matter to no avail.

A photo obtained by Stabroek News of Charles’ present condition shows him lying on the bare concrete of a cell with what appears to be a swollen right eye.

Akeem Charles’ bed facilities, which are allegedly soaked every half hour.

Sources say that while on an army training course, Charles had sustained back injuries, for which he attempted to solicit assistance from the doctor on the base. After being unsuccessful in his attempts at gaining medical attention, Charles approached the GDF Welfare Department who it was said informed him that the army did not have the requisite funds to pay for the medical assistance he required.

This newspaper was told that Charles then went AWOL in an effort to solicit assistance for his injury, but turned himself in after the Army published information about him.

The army has taken a tough stance on soldiers who have gone AWOL in the past.
It was said that upon turning himself in, Charles was put into the holding cell and told that it would take just over 10 days for his matter to be processed. The source said that more than 30 days have now passed since Charles has been incarcerated.

Stabroek News understands that on Thursday December, 20th, while being escorted to his cell by two MPs, Charles dove into a nearby drain to avoid going back to his cell since the conditions that obtained there became too much for him to bear.  It is alleged that a senior soldier and another then proceeded to deal Charles several blows about his body for having done this.

Akeem Charles lying on the bare concrete floor in a holding cell at Camp Ayanganna. Charles, who turned himself into the army after going AWOL, has reportedly been kept in inhumane conditions for more than a month.

The source started that after being dealt multiple blows about the body, Charles was thrown back into his cell, naked, after which his cell was soaked with water. It is alleged that the young man’s cell was, from that point, doused with water every half hour, presumably to make him as uncomfortable as possible.

The army has faced similar allegations in the past.
Charles’ family has been made aware of his condition.


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