During the Camp Street Prison fire and unrest on July 9, inmates had locked some of the prison officers in a room and they had to be rescued by other prisoners.
This is according to Member of Parliament (MP), Juan Edghill, who was at the time speaking at a press conference yesterday that Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo held.
He told the media that he got that information last Saturday during a meeting with Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud and Director of Prisons (DoP), Gladwin Samuels.
Edghill said the the DoP gave the information about the prison officers when he inquired if they were in control of the prison at the time of the unrest or whether the prisoners took control of the prison and started to release people.
But at that stage, he said, Ramjattan “basically wanted to shut the meeting down, saying all of those things would come out at a Commission of Inquiry.”
According to him, they were invited to the meeting to be briefed on the prison fire and break-out. How-ever, the information provided was already out in the public and he deemed it “inadequate.” He also said the meeting was a “waste of time.”
Edghill said when they sought to ask questions, Persaud and Samuels started answering but this did not go down well with Ramjattan and Patterson.
He said they (Opposition) were met with “impatience, intolerance and the unwillingness to share information…” He also said that they tried to seek answers about the correct timeline of the fire.
The MP said they had said previously stated that the Opposition was not giving any political cover to the prisoners and that they “must know what are the facts…”
Meanwhile, Edghill was also critical of Patterson chairing the meeting and giving all of the responses as it seemed as though “he was the new Minister of Security… [he was] telling the director (Samuels) and the Commissioner if they can or cannot speak.”
During the prison riot, prison officer, Odinga Wickham was killed in the line of duty. He was shot five times and died as a result of haemorrhagic shock and multiple organ damage, according to his autopsy.
The fire began close to 3 pm and by 8 pm the entire complex, many of the aged buildings made of wood, was ablaze.
Hundreds of prisoners were evacuated from the facility and taken to the Lusignan jail and other facilities. They have since been transferred to a temporary holding facility in Lusignan.