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POA wants action on 2015 jailbreak... Weekes urged to intervene

Published: 
Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Prison Officers’ Association is calling on newly-appointed President Paula-Mae Weekes to bring some form of resolution to the ongoing saga of the 2015 jailbreak at the Port-of-Spain Prison.

The association is also calling for the reinstatement of the three prison officers who were suspended following that incident, the charges be dropped against them and a new commission to probe the matter be formed under the ambit of the Prison Service.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday at the POA headquarters in Arouca yesterday, president Ceron Richards said they had written to former president Anthony Carmona, the Joint Select Committee, Public Service Commission, Attorney General’s office and the Integrity Commission on this issue before with no resolution.

Richards said a letter will now be sent to Weekes for her first assignment to be the investigation of the jailbreak.

He said attorney Ricky Pandohee had filed a judicial review proceedings under the Freedom of Information Act for information on the probe into the matter and it was discovered by affidavit evidence that there was no accuser and no report made.

“The Prison Officers Association continues to report that there is no outcome to this investigation that revealed what happened on that day and what caused that incident to take place and who were the persons responsible,” he said, adding after three years there is still no outcome to questions raised after the jail break and the officers cannot come before their accuser/s to defend themselves.

“We still want to know who brought in the guns and the grenades? How did those items make their way into the system to be used in the jailbreak? Who was it that facilitated for those inmates to use equipment in this daring jail break? These questions remain unanswered.”

He said three prison officers have been on suspension since the incident and have charges pending before the PSC Tribunal and cannot be heard, noting their lives have been thrown into turmoil and nobody seems to care.

“They are pleading for disclosure that would support their defence. Something is terribly wrong here,” he said.

Richards said the prison officers were vilified, blamed for the jail break and are still away from duty.

“Who made these accusations? To date, all evidence shows there is no accuser and no report. How were they identified? What is the role of the commission (Public Service Commission)?” he asked.

Attempts for a response from the Office of President were unsuccessful yesterday.

The jail break:

Prisoners Allan ‘Scanny’ Martin, Hamid Atwell and Christopher “Monster” Selby escaped from the Port-of-Spain Prison on July 24, 2015. Prisons officer Leon Rouse was shot and PC Sherman Maynard, who was stationed outside, was killed during the daring escape.

Martin was killed on the compound of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital soon after the escape, having crashed a getaway vehicle near the facility. Atwell was shot dead in East Port-of-Spain one day later and Selby subsequently surrendered to the Barataria police.

Following the jail break, three prisons officers —Lancelot Duntin, Mervyn Pierre and Lovell Wolfe — were suspended.

The men were accused of discrediting the reputation of the Prison Service by failing to act promptly on instructions, contributing to the escape of the men, plus the shooting death of PC Sherman Maynard.

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