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What freedom?

Garcia’s new prison.

by Latoya Burnham

Raul Garcia is out of Dodd’s Prison – but the saga over his actual freedom hit another snag today.

Attorney David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that although the man has been removed from prison, he had been relocated to an equally restrictive facility.

Comissiong, who said he had been in contact with Garcia, explained that the Cuban-American had been moved sometime on Sunday afternoon to a new location at the Garrison, but his communications with him since then had turned up more concerns.

Shocked and dismayed

“I am shocked and dismayed because it seems he was moved from one prison to another more restrictive facility. I have asked for a meeting with the Chief Immigration Officer tomorrow because I am very, very disappointed by this turn of events,” said the lawyer.

Comissiong said the details indicate that Garcia was being kept in two small rooms with an adjoining bathroom, under heavy guard, with two policemen and two soldiers standing by. He said similar to when he was at Dodds, all of Garcia’s movements were still being monitored.

Security detail

When a Barbados TODAY photographer visited the area today there was security detail blocking access to the area where Garcia is being held.

“Even something as simple as brushing his teeth I am told is done by requesting a toothbrush and they have to put toothpaste on it and when he is done it has to be handed back through an 18-inch wired aperture in the wall. This situation is psychologically isolating and punitive,” the lawyer complained.

“I am shocked and dismayed because in discussions with Prime Minister Stuart and with Randolph Straughan, I was at pains to point out that Garcia is no longer a prisoner. He is not being punished and every effort should be made to make it as civilised as possible. So I am shocked to see the condition he is being kept in.

“He told me he was moved sometime yesterday afternoon, but he was not sure of what time, but it was in the afternoon.”

Garcia, 57, remained in prison more than two years after serving a 20 year sentence for offences relating to cocaine importation. The man, Cuban by birth, had also lived abroad in other countries including Spain and Colombia, before being arrested and serving time in Barbados’ prison.

Following his term, authorities here found themselves in a tough situation due to the fact that no country would accept him and therefore there was difficulty in deporting him as should happen by law.

His attorney, Comissiong has been advocating for his release, declaring it unfair that Garcia not be given his freedom. He said that he was hoping his scheduled meeting with the Chief Immigration Officer would bring some relief to Garcia’s current situation.

Good sense

“I am hoping that good sense will prevail. He is not being punished. Right now the kind of imposition — he has two police officers and two soldiers guarding him. It is like he is Osama Bin Laden or some vile terrorist who must be locked away.

“He served 20 years for the crime he committed and an additional two and a half years at Dodds because he is without somewhere to go. He has gone through anguish over time with the death of his son and he has gone on hunger strikes. He is a stateless person but there is no reason why he should be treated in this manner,” Comissiong maintained.

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