Trinidad – Police probing prison riot
PORT OF SPAIN –– Five prison officers and seven prisoners were stabbed and beaten in a violent confrontation yesterday morning in circumstances that are now under investigation.
The incident in the remand section of the Golden Grove Prison occurred around 6 a.m. when breakfast was being delivered to inmates, but there are conflicting reports about which group started the brawl.
Prison officers said they were ambushed by a group of prisoners brandishing makeshift weapons –– sharpened tooth brushes and metal objects –– who kicked, cuffed, and stabbed them hours after a search by officials uncovered a stash of contraband.
Commissioner of Prisons Sterling Stewart said he had launched an internal investigation into the incident and expected a preliminary report soon.
“My officers were attacked,” he told the Trinidad Express.
“Because of the information that we had — certain contraband were in a particular area of the remand prison — we sent in a squad to do a special search [Tuesday] night. The inmates said they were not taking anything like that, and they start attacking the officers with their pails and their buckets and whatever. There were a few inmates who attempted to obstruct officers from carrying out their search, but improvised weapons, cellular phones and other contraband items were found and confiscated.
“Then [yesterday] morning, from what I was told, as officers were carrying out their duties they were taken hostage, if you will, at a particular wing in the prison. Inmates were armed with a number of knives and blades,” Stewart added.
Inmates, meantime, claimed the prison officials attacked them. They alleged that a group of mostly Muslim prisoners were also beaten in the raid by officers the night before.
Those injured in yesterday’s confrontation were taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex for treatment.
The prison was also placed on lockdown, resulting in visitors who had been waiting for several hours being turned away.
The Trinidad Express reported that two days before the prison brawl, jailed journalist Akile Simon, who is on remand at the Golden Grove Prison awaiting trial on gun and ammunition charges, had written to Minister of Justice Prakash Ramadhar calling for an “independent and impartial investigation” into incidents of physical violence, as well as inhumane and degrading treatment of remand inmates.