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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)