Sunday, June 20, 2004

TT: Who's guarding these criminal police and prison guards?

An Eyewitness who allegedly saw ex-prisoner Noel Stanley beaten by two plainclothes policemen has surfaced.

Stanley’s sister, Lisa Stanley, said yesterday that a prisoner (name withheld) was willing to give police a statement about the incident which occurred last Sunday.

She said the family had received information that Stanley and the prisoner were beaten at the State prison on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.

Lisa told Sunday Guardian that the prisons authorities were refusing to allow police investigators to speak with the prisoner.

The prisoner was allegedly the recipient of a bag of compressed marijuana Stanley reportedly tossed over the prison wall.

“If we don’t get the prisoner to testify, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lisa said in a telephone interview.

Sources said the prisoner had received constant beatings since Sunday and was in critical condition at Port-of-Spain prison’s infirmary.

He was said to have been taken from “lock-down” and placed in the infirmary sometime between Friday night and yesterday morning.

Sources said despite his condition, prisons authorities had refused to take the prisoner to Port-of-Spain General Hospital for medical attention.

Lisa said a group of prisoners released yesterday morning from the Frederick Street prison passed on information about the prisoner to her family.

She also said inmates claimed to have heard Stanley and the prisoner screaming on Sunday.

“They said the guy is in critical condition because of the beatings and it looks like he is not going to last
,” she said.

Lisa said that on receiving the information, she contacted the family’s attorneys, Osbourne Charles SC and Donna Prowell-Raphael.

Contacted yesterday, Prowell-Raphael said police investigators were contacted upon receipt of the information.

She said the investigators were not optimistic about their chances of getting into the prison to record a statement from the prisoner.

“The police said they would try to get in, but there is so much red tape, they were not optimistic,” she said.

However, Prowell-Raphael said efforts were being made to check on the prisoner.

Contacted for a comment on the allegations, acting Commissioner of Prisons, Carlo McHoney said: “I am driving a car and can’t answer anything.”

Asked when would it be convenient to call back, McHoney said: “I am going to a wedding now. I can’t say what time to call
.”

Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs could not be reached for comment, as his cellphone was switched off.

Stanley’s death was listed as unnatural after a second autopsy performed by Dr Hubert Daisley revealed he was strangled.

The report also said his testicles were badly swollen, having been squeezed.

Daisley also found bloodstains around the wall of his abdomen, suggesting that he was beaten in the stomach
.

The first autopsy conducted on Tuesday at the Forensic Sciences Centre, St James, said Stanley died from heart failure and a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
What on earth is Patrick Manning's PNMM government doing to preserve the rights of the average citizen and the prisoners behind bars? It seems nothing, especially in light of the behind bars murder of Noel Stanley and the potentially fatal beating of another prisoner.

Given the death of Stanley, and the possibly imminent death of the other prisoner, the arrogance of the Actg. Commissioner of Prisons, Carlo McHoney is astounding. Similarly is the sudden silence of Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs. Have these men ever heard of accountability? Is anyone in the PNM holding them accountable? What is the Minister of Home Affairs doing besides nothing? When wil TT jails cease to be tombs for the incarcerated?

A man does not abandon his right to life because his actions have resulted in the loss of his liberty. It is high time that the government of TT hire and train police officers and prison guards who are capable of treating humanely the public who pay their salaries.

The problem with many of these jokers is that when they get a government job, suddenly they are better than everyone else. When that government job has a gun as requisite equipment, the thugs who don uniforms believe that they are little tin gods and act accordingly. The average citizen is left to hold his head and bawl when these semi-educated egotists ride roughshod over him because he has no means of redress. To speak out is to invite harassment, arrest on some trumped up and specious charge, and beatings such as were meted out to Noel Stanley and this other unnamed prisoner.

TT has a long way to go to join the civilized world in this respect.

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