… Police ID 3 more escapees
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan late Wednesday night revealed that about 300 prisoners have been released following the massive fire which flattened the Georgetown Prison at Camp Street. He also stated that 85 convicted inmates have been relocated to the Mazaruni Prison in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
The Minister made those revelations in an interview with media operatives at the University of Guyana Turkeyen and Tain Talks at the Pegasus Hotel.
The approximately 300 persons include those who have been granted bail for non-violent offences and prisoners who were scheduled for release in the months of July and August. The Minister said he invoked his extraordinary powers and granted those inmates early release since they would have displayed good behaviour for the duration of their sentences.
Ramjattan further stated that more prisoners are expected to be released to ease overcrowding and make room for those displaced.
“We will be going to the other prisons at Mazaruni, Lusignan and Timehri and see those prisoners who are scheduled to be released soon and if they display good behaviour, they will also be released, so we can transfer those (from Camp Street) to those facilities,” the Minister stated.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Police Force has identified three more high-profile prisoners who have escaped from the Camp Street penitentiary during Sunday’s jailbreak.
Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud on Tuesday confirmed to Guyana Times that a total of eight prisoners are on the run; at the time of the jailbreak, the identity of only three was made public, but the Police Force has since identified three others, and on Wednesday released their identities. They are: 24-year-old Desmond James of Hotoquai Creek, North West District; 32-year-old Cornelius Thomas of Lot 36 Guyhoc Gardens, Georgetown and of Trinidad & Tobago; and 26-year-old Cobena Stephens of Lot 82 Gope Street, Middle Walk, Buxton, ECD.
The police have said these each of these three prisoners was in jail for the capital offence of murder, and are now additionally wanted for escaping from the Georgetown Prison on Sunday last, when the facility was set on fire.
Police have already issued wanted bulletins for the alleged masterminds of the jailbreak — Mark Royden Durant, ex-cop Uree Varswyck, and Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander.
Durant, also known as “Royden Williams” and “Smallie”, was jailed for both the gruesome Lusignan and Bartica massacres. The other two were also imprisoned for murder.
The police are still to release the identities of two other prisoners that comprise the eight escapees on the run. In the meantime, a Joint Service Operation is currently being carried out in the backlands of East Bank and East Coast Demerara villages, as well as in the community of Buxton.
“In an effort to recapture the prisoners, there is a joint patrol in the backlands,” Assistant Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken told the Guyana Times.
And acting Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, told the Government’s Information Hub on Wednesday that prison authorities are currently working to accurately inform the public about the prisoners as soon as possible.
“I know that the media is seeking a lot of information as it relates to names of persons who have been transferred, who have been discharged, who are probably at large; we are currently working on compiling all of those lists, so that the information can be provided… We have several persons putting the pieces together,” he stated.
Samuels added that, once completed, the information would be submitted to the Public Security Minister, who would in turn make it public. This information, the acting Director of Prisons noted, would bring some sense of relief to the public, especially in light of speculations that there are “many prisoners” at large following Sunday’s incident.
Authorities revealed earlier in the week that some 1018 inmates were at the Camp Street facility at the time of the jailbreak. But there have been subsequent reports of that figure being 1090, 1110 and even 1144.
When pressed further, however, to state what was the exact number of prisoners that were at the Camp Street Prison at the time of the incident, Commissioner Persaud posit, “I am interested in the ones that have escaped…we are trying to assist the prison in restoring order, and pursue those who have escaped and get them rearrested.”
Sunday’s fire which flattened the Camp Street jail had served as a distraction for inmates to escape from prisons. In their bid to do so, several prison officers were brutally attacked, and have suffering from shotgun wounds and lacerations.
In fact, one of the seven wounded officers, 33-year-old Odinga Wickham, succumbed to several gunshot wounds to the chest.