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Two jailed for Health Ministry arson

The two men convicted for burning down the Ministry of Health in 2009 were Thursday each sentenced to 60 months imprisonment.

City Magistrate, Judy Latchman imposed the custodial sentence on Colin Jones and Clayton Westford.

Westford’s lawyer, Michael Somersaull intends to appeal the decision.

She on June 17 found the duo guilty of committing the offence after an extensive trial. At the time of conviction, Westford who was on bail was taken back into custody.

Jones has several other matters, including murder, pending.

The Defence had argued that no case had been made out against Westford because the Fire Department had not tendered evidence and there was no proof to support the accusation of arson.

The July 16,2009 inferno consumed the decades-old wooden building on Brickdam, taking with it valuable records, equipment and several vehicles. Former Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy estimated the losses at about GUY$1.5 billion. He said historical records about disease profiles, accreditation by the various councils and the main computer server were all burnt.

Jones, addressing the court from the dock, made light of the destruction that Ramsammy referred to. “All these documents the minister talking bout…doctors are supposed to know about these things already and got it store in computers across the nation. We don’t really need to rely on records…this is no big serious matter as it is made out to be.”

Political commentators at that time had labelled the arson an act of domestic terrorism. Remains of channa bombs and an inflammable substance had been recovered from the scene.

Outside the courthouse, relatives and friends of the convicts hurled insults and vented their frustration at the decision, saying that there was no evidence to show that the youths were culpable.