Murder accused complain of beating by prison officers

File photo: Prisoners exercise in the general area of the remand section of the maximum security prison in Arouca.
File photo: Prisoners exercise in the general area of the remand section of the maximum security prison in Arouca.

At least seven prisoners, all accused of murder, intend to pursue legal action against the State after they claimed they were dragged from their cells and beaten by masked police, soldiers and prison officers on Saturday at the Maximum Security Prison.

The prisoners – Ashton Medina, Jabarial Khan, Victor Timothy, Ricardo James, Shawn McLean and Akiel Telesford – met with their attorney Roshan Tota-Maharaj on Monday.

They gave the go-ahead to initiate legal action for assault and battery and to ask for other constitutional relief.

The prisoners told their lawyer they were taken from their cells on Saturday at the Wayne Jackson Building, also known as Building 13, and beaten on their heads, arms, back, feet and torsoes.

One claimed a soldier pressed down his eyeballs and behind his ear so violently that blood began to ooze from his ears.

They claimed they were tortured for about three hours and warned they would never leave the jail alive.

The injured prisoners were seen by a doctor at the prison infirmary on Monday. One was transferred to the Mt Hope Hospital for further treatment.

Photos said to be of some of the injured inmates and voice notes describing the events began circulating on WhatsApp groups on Monday. Other photos showed remnants of rubber bullets, shrapnel from non-lethal grenades and shell casings from ammunition and prisoners with varying wounds to their heads, backs, feet, faces and other parts of their bodies.

Jamaal Shabazz confirmed the authenticity of the voice notes from murder accused Rajaee Ali and his brother Hamid Ali, who are both awaiting trial for the murder of Dana Seetahal, and another from Barry Alphonse, also awaiting trial for murder.

In response to the videos, photos and voice notes shared on social media, Prison Commissioner Dennis Pulchan said non-lethal force was used to compel rebellious prisoners to comply during a search on Saturday.

"The videos currently circulating allude to prisoners being ill-treated and abused without any probable cause, or on the whims and fancies of those in authority," he said. "The TT Prison Service vehemently refutes these allegations and will continue to do what is necessary within the parameters of the law to maintain law and order within the nation’s prisons."

Pulchan said people bent on "making mischief" are deliberately attempting to use religion to further their defiance against law and order, especially when prisoners are not allowed to get their own way.

He said all allegations of abuse will be investigated, "as the Prison Service is about fair play and equality for all under its care."

Pulchan said none of the prisoners' rights were violated during the search, which was a normal part of prison duty and conducted from time to time.

He also said investigations had been launched into the origins of the videos and voice notes and is working alongside other national security agencies to uphold the prison service's mandate of public safety and security.

In late July, some of the most high-risk prisoners were relocated to the Wayne Jackson Building, after it was formally opened.

There was reports of a hunger strike afte the relocation and some inmates set afire some mattresses but the situation was defused after senior prison officers intervened.


"Murder accused complain of beating by prison officers"

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