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We just wanted our voice to be heard’ – Prisoner says fires were to gain media attention

Basil Morgan giving his testimony at the Commission

Basil Morgan giving his testimony at the Commission

As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Camp Street Prison riot continues, a prisoner has testified that the inmates primarily wanted to gain the attention of the media when they started fires in the Capital A block of the jail.

The prisoner, Basil Morgan, under cross by examination by Commission Counsel Excellence Dazzle, stated he has been incarcerated at the Camp Street jail for five years.

The 37-year-old is currently facing a murder charge, and says he is entirely fed up with the sloth of Guyana’s justice system.

Morgan said that before the prisoners resorted to the fires, other methods would have been attempted.

This including writing letters to the Office of the Director of Public Persons and the Ministry of the Presidency.

He told the Commission that Prison Wardens were also questioned as to whether they would be able to assist them in any way.

In most cases the inmates were told that “they (prison wardens) are mandated to keep you safe nothing more,” he said adding “person’s frustration grew and they tried to gain the attention of the media.”

“Before sleeping persons went to the western side of the building shouting to the officers, fire men and the police saying we have no problem with the police, we have no problem with the fire men, we have no problem with the prison warden – we just want our voices to be heard,” Morgan stated.

Morgan was one of the prisoners who were outside of the prison block on Friday March 4, when the fire that would kill 17 persons would be lit.

He told the Commission “thank God I didn’t get to go back cause I been dead right now.”

He said that there was no resistance on the part of inmates when they were told they come out. This is contrary to the testimony of other prisoners who said they rushed back inside after they saw other inmates being beaten.

“There wasn’t no resistance of the inmates when they were told to come out …While I was getting search the order was given to the police officer at the door, I don’t know who shout out the order,” Morgan testified. (Jomo Brusheildon Paul)

  • Emile_Mervin

    If the fires were intended to fain media attention, they did that and worse. Unfortunately, government-prison history is not comforting for reform wishers. In fact, this government, so far, does not seem up to the task of governing free society, let alone a closed or isolated one made of up those who fell through the cracks of free society.

    • SYL

      Bro. Emile Rome was not built in a day. Time is of essence in all aspects of life.Can you un-ravel 23 yrs of inappropriate activities in 10 months?

      • Emile_Mervin

        Syl,

        Rome was not built in a day, but Nero fiddled while Rome burned. I am not expecting an unraveling of 23 years of inappropriate activities in 10 months, but read my specific reference to the audits, which became a lynch pin of the coalition’s fight against PPP corruption.

        It is an insult to the people Guyana to raise their hopes that audits will uncover PPP corruption, but after $133m and audits were complete, the coalition decided to send the NICIL audit to the Auditor-General for review, while the remaining audits were reviewed by Cabinet and will now be sent to a group of legal minds on the way forward.

        Where are the people of Guyana in all of this? Why weren’t the audits sent to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, like all other State audits, so the people can be apprised of the facts and figures contained therein? Parliament is the place for audits to be publicly addressed, after which, reports can be sent to the DPP with guidance from legal consultants.

        Again, I am proud of the restoration of Georgetown, but that was not as high up on the coalition’s campaign agenda as the one to fight corruption. Where is the fight against corruption based on the audits? Sorry, I am not impressed by anything of substance from the coalition after 10 months. Jagdeo continues to look better everyday in the eyes of his party’s base because this coalition continues to govern like this.

        • SYL

          What’s the rush, time must do its work.

          • Emile_Mervin

            Time is all we have, but do note that it is not forever ours to play with. Last year, I recall taking flack for arguing against the Cabinet and MPs pay raises, because proponents of the raises argued that come 2016, the Budget will allow for public servants to get their promised 20%. Guess what?

      • Col123

        SYL…A lot more than 23 years need to be unraveled..we need to go back starting 153 years ago..and start talking about reparations…through the following century to follow our independence,and after, towards the period up to 2015…Why do you just want to go back only 23 yrs?..