resisted joint services operation
Officer in Charge of Georgetown Prisons Superintendent Kevin Pilgrim has revealed that 16 prisoners are confirmed dead following a fire at the penitentiary which inmates started this morning.
At an emergency news conference at the Ministry of the Presidency this afternoon in the presence of Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Pilgrim said the inmates were angry following a raid in the Capital A section of the prison on Wednesday.
This section houses mostly remand prisoners who are charged with murder and other serious crimes. According to Pilgrim, the search was conducted at 14:00hrs yesterday and lasted for some two hours.
Officers found 19 cell phones and a quantity of narcotics. Pilgrim told the media that the prisoners demanded that the illegal items be returned after which they started protesting and lit nine fires on Wednesday night.
He said that the situation was eventually brought under control and this morning the Joint Services conducted another operation which he said was “going quite smoothly.”
However, things took a turn for the worse when the inmates refused to come out of the Capital A section. As such, officers initiated an action drill to bring the situation under control and the fire service responded. According to Pilgrim, heckling from the general population of the prison fueled the situation this morning.
Minister Ramjattan said that the names of those who died will be released to the family first before given to the media. There is currently heavy reinforcement of ranks at the prison to ensure that the prison is secured.
Director of Prisons, Carl Graham said, “As we speak here, the prison is under the command of the Superintendent of Prisons, with the support of the entire joint services – Police, Fire, Army.”
Meanwhile, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) expressed “its utter shock and horror at the tragedy…” According to the opposition party, this virtual rebellion within the prison walls is the worst of its kind in recent history.
“The incident started following a police raid at the prison and the discovery of a number of illegal items. Later, in protesting the raid a fire was started and escalated into a riot.”
The PPP said the David Granger-led administration must take full responsibility for this disaster and urged the government to issue a public statement on this incident.
“We call upon the Government to provide the nation with a comprehensive and truthful update on what transpired. A Board of Inquiry must be established immediately to investigate the circumstances that led to this sorry state of affairs at the Georgetown Prisons.”