UPDATES: Camp Street jail on fire – Monday 10 July 2017 – includes video

UPDATE: Camp Street jail on fire + video – Kaieteur News – 10 July 2017

– several inmates on the run, car hijacked    – prisons officers injured

One year after a fire killed 18 persons at the Camp Street jail, another blaze late today— deliberately set– has leveled several blocks in the prison compound. At least seven prison officers were either shot of chopped. Two were critical. Three prisoners were also hospitalized with gunshot wounds. 

As of 20:00 hours, the blaze was still raging. Prisoners, both remand and convicted, were evacuated to the army headquarters, Camp Ayanganna and Lusignan Prisons.

There are no confirmed reports of persons dead at this time.
According to reports, the fire started after 17:30 hours, set by angry prisoners who protested the late serving of their meals.

At the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Health Minister Volda Lawrence disclosed that 10 persons from the Prison Riot are receiving medical attention- among are seven are prison officers.

One person, a prison officer identified as Officer Trim, is currently undergoing surgery.
The Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) in a statement said that it has disconnected water services in Queenstown and Kitty, Georgetown so as to ensure adequate water access to the Guyana Fire Service during the prison fire.

Reports said that prisoners first set fire to the tailor shop and as confusion spread, several blazes were strategically set.

The Prison Officers Club, to where a number of inmates were evacuated, was also set alight.
There are reports at this time that prisoners who used the confusion to hijack a car, fled to Buxton, East Coast Demerara where security forces tracked them down and captured two.

Several prisoners at this time were being evacuated to the army base in Thomas Lands in big buses, under police and army watch.

At the scene of the fire, there were sounds of explosions within the prison walls. More details.

Some of the scenes from the fire below:



Five prisoners  on the run after Camp St fire

-Mark Royden Williams believed to be mastermind

Security officials said last night that one of the masterminds of the escape plan is believed to be Mark Royden Williams who was sentenced to death in February this year  over the Bartica massacre of 2008 when 12 men were killed. Williams is presently unaccounted for and police this morning issued a wanted bulletin for him and Uree Varswyk who was recently committed to stand trial for murder.


Bartica-Lusignan massacre convict, others escape from Georgetown Prison after distracting prison authorities

Five prisoners were up to early Monday morning still at large, after distracting prison wardens by setting the overcrowded Georgetown Prison ablaze , authorities said.

“The fire actually served as a distraction which resulted in the prison break. This is still to be confirmed,” Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels told a news briefing at the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN). He said the Duty Officer, who has all the information what transpired, was seriously injured and he was in no position to provide a briefing.

Fire fighters and security personnel are due to comb the scene to confirm that no one was burnt to death or there are more survivors.

He confirmed that prison officer Odinga Wayne Wickham died while receiving emergency treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital. Two other prison officers, including Hubert Trim, are listed in a critical condition and three others were stable, he said.  They sustained either chop or gunshot wounds.

Up to late Sunday night, there were no reports that prisoners died, but two of them who were taken out of the jail were shot while attempting to escape, he said.

He said the incident started in the strong-cell division and the wood prison/ condemned the decision.

Among the escapees are Royden Williams, who was sentenced to death for the Bartica and Lusignan massacres, and another named Varswyck who has been committed to stand trial for a robbery-murder. The identities of the others were not immediately known. The Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud said there might be more escapees, but so far they were aware of five.



Uree Varswyke

He said in the days and hours leading up to the fire, there was no sign of unrest among the prisoners.

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said there was no evidence of a political motive behind the escape and destruction of the prison by fire, but that would not be ruled out by investigators. “Not as far as I know and I don’t think there might have been. That does not mean that that will be eliminated. In the process of investigating, we are going to check on that too,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.

Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud said police in neighbouring Suriname have been informed to look out for the four prison escapees.

Authorities said the more than 1,000 prisons have been transported to the Lusignan Prison, East Coast Demerara and are in the open yard of a high-fenced area. “There have been some rogue elements who would have been transferred. However, efforts are being made to have those persons isolated but, as we speak, from reports on the ground the situation is stable,” the Prisons Director said.

The Minister said about 300 of the inmates would be moved by Monday to other prisons, but the remaining 700 would still need proper accommodation. “We have a big crisis on our hands,” he said, while ruling out the temporary housing of several them in schools because of the risk of the schools being burnt.

Although the nine wooden Georgetown Prison buildings have been gutted and others badly damaged, the Public Security Minister said it is likely that a remand facility would be constructed at Camp Street because it is the closest jail to all of the courts in Georgetown and Demerara.

A new prison could cost as GYD$6billion and would take three years, he said.

Fire Chief, Marlon Gentle said it was not until after one hour that fire fighters were able to gain entry to the prison compound where prisoners were armed with guns and other weapons.

Police shot at a car at Buxton after the driver saw the police road block, turned back and sped off. The Police Commissioner said the driver was unlicensed and the occupants are from Buxton, but they were unconnected to the prison break and fire.

The Public Security Minister could not have afforded to invest in some of the 40 recommendations that were made in a Commission of Inquiry Report into last year’s prison fire that claimed the lives of 16 inmates, because of the multi-billion dollar subsidy to the cash-strapped Guyana Sugar Corporation.

He, however, said government would now have to find the cash to rebuild a facility at the Georgetown Prison to house remand prisoners, release some of them who have been convicted for non-violent offences and reduce the bail for a number of the 593 on remand but could not afford it. About 200 others are on remand for murder. Ramjattan said the Chancellor of the Judiciary might also have to review the status of several of the inmates to ensure they have early trials.

About GYD$60 million have been already spent on night courts following last year’s fire that claimed the lives of more than one dozen inmates.


Camp Street jail razed, prison officer killed

In what could best be described as a horrific unfolding that starkly eclipsed any previous inferno at a prison facility in Guyana’s history the Camp Street prison has been reduced to rubble. For the first time since its construction more than one hundred years ago last night was the first night it did not hold any prisoners.

And not for the first time a prison officer was killed on the job.
The prison unrest broke out at the nation’s main correctional facility shortly after 17:00 hours. It was during this period that an apparent escape and break out plan took effect resulting in seven prison officers being shot and brutally chopped. Countless prisoners and prison officers were injured while others were held at gunpoint under siege. Most were lucky to escape with their lives.  [Read more]


Prison Officer killed, six others injured in Prison fiery unrest

KILLED: Prison Officer Odinga Wickham

Prison Officer Odinga Wickham succumbed to a gunshot wound to the chest and chop wounds inflicted on him by inmates at the Camp Street Prison, while undergoing treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), last evening.

His colleague, Hubert Trim, who was the Duty Officer at the time, is in a critical state having sustained chop wounds to the head. He was undergoing surgery up to late last night.
Up to press time Prison Officers Simeon Sandy, Errol Daphness, Drexel Gonsalves, Jason Maltoy and Dominic Mingo were also receiving treatment for either gunshot or chop wounds or a combination of both.  [Read more]



Guyana: Inmates escape as prison burns – BBC News Report



Murder accused Georgetown Prison inmate recaptured; five still at large

A murder accused, who attempted to flee during the fire that destroyed the Georgetown Prison, was recaptured  in the vicinity of the maximum security prison, a police spokesman said Monday.

Guyana Police Force spokesman, Superintendent, Jairam Ramlakhan told Demerara Waves Online News that 20-year old Shawn Collins of 6 Ketley and Drysdale Streets, Charlestown, Georgetown was arrested in the vicinity of Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street.

Ramlakhan said Collins was not among the five who escaped shortly after the fire started at the prison Sunday afternoon.  He said so far, there is no further word of any other escapees.He escaped while being transported with other prisoners Sunday night and was recaptured at about 1:50 Monday morning, the police spokesman said. “It was good that we were able to nab him early.”

So far, authorities have been able to name only two of the five escapees. They are Royden Williams, who was sentenced to death for the Bartica massacre, and Uree Varswyck who has been committed to stand trial for a robbery-murder.

The more than 1,000 other inmates have been transported to highly fenced plot of land next to the Lusignan Prison where they slept among animals. Sources said they have not yet received food and water, and the promised toilet facilities were yet to be established.

Meanwhile, Demerara Waves Online News has confirmed that those injured and still hospitalised are Jason Maltay,20, Drexel Gonsalves, 25, of Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara; Dominic Mingo, 20, of Glasgow, Housing Scheme, East Bank Berbice; Errol Daphnis,30, of New Amsterdam; Simoen Sandy, 19, and 40-year old Hubert Trim. Prison Officer, Odinga Wayne Wickham succumbed to gunshot injuries to his chest.

In all, two prisoners were shot while attempting to escape and eight prison wardens were either chopped or shot.

Authorities said five prisoners set fire to the prison in an attempt to distract prison and police guards as they fled the maximum security jail.

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said in an effort to alleviate the situation at Lusignan, 300 of the inmates would be sent to other prisons and those who were convicted for non-violent offences and are on good

behaviour would be released early. He also said authorities would explore how to deal with the more than 500 remanded prisoners, many of whom cannot afford to lodge cash bail to secure their pre-trial liberty.

Ramjattan said the Camp Street prison would be rehabilitated at least to house remanded prisoners due to the fact that it is the best location from which to shuttle prisoners to the several courts in Georgetown and East Bank and East Coast Demerara.

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  • guyaneseonline  On 07/10/2017 at 1:39 am


    A violently ugly incident is waiting to happen
    Jul 07, 2017 KNews Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon

    If there is anything I have learnt in my long years in media functions is that governmental leaders from top to bottom have a deterministic conceptualization of journalism – it is to be used in the service of power, and if it does not serve that purpose, then leaders have no use for journalists.

    Media operatives on the other hand, have to carry out what is essentially their obligation – to report and comment without fictionalization and malice. A journalist and a columnist have obligation to country, not government. Governments come and go; governments do bad things, but countries remain.

    I owe my readers who have stuck with this column for twenty-three years an obligation to present my analyses from the viewpoint of what is inside my head, not what is inside the corridors of power. My readers expect me to express a heartfelt opinion on things in my country; not to please President, Prime Minister and Ministers. The day I am prevented from expressing in these articles what is inside my mind and publish what is inside the minds of governmental leaders, I will retire to my family and my pets, and that would be the end of my media career.

    There is another lesson to be learnt from the corridors of power. The power elite want you, in the media, to acknowledge that they are knowledgeable about politics and intellectually smart. When you find them wanting in these departments and you write about their failings, they get vicious. Once you point out their mistakes they get nasty. But all media operatives know that such comes with the territory.

    What I am about to expound on in the following is partially derived from the horrible deaths that came out of our prison uprising. Not even in perennially violent Jamaica have so many inmates died in a prison rebellion. At the risk of invoking the wrath of President Granger, Prime Minister Nagamootoo (who often boasts about his forty-odd years in politics), and their ministers, I do not believe anyone among the group has the intellectual capacity to internalize the causes and lessons to be learnt from that prison rebellion.

    That prison mayhem has roots that go way into the hopelessness of youths in this country; the cruel ways the judicial system treats them, particularly the magistracy, and the unbearable hypocrisy in the corridors of power that triggers extensive anger in our youth population.

    This columnist will not and will never argue in any way that could offer sympathy for those three bank robbers or condone what they did. But despite our revulsion at what they did, social mayhems have underlying causes. My opinion is that youths feel that the status quo is class-based, unjust and sadistic and it will lead them to do “not so nice things.”
    Do you think there isn’t volcanic passion waiting to find an outlet over the constant denial of bail youths from low income communities endure for small possessions of ganja, but two accused were given bail on appeal from the High Court (which entails more fees for the lawyer presenting the bail petition) for charges of possession of 187 pounds of cocaine (work out how much grams that is)?

    Magistrates are devastating the youth population from working class families with unreasonable jail terms and putting them on remand with excessive bail assignments. Yet against the backdrop of the prison riots, the corridors of power are unmoved. They are unconcerned because they do not have the capacity to link the following – youth frustration, judicial sadism, the prison uprising and the bank robbery. They are connected, but mundane minds cannot see that, and there are too many mediocre souls in the corridors of power.

    A very powerful minister told the media he doesn’t like to comment on magistrates’ decisions, but he couldn’t help reacting to what Magistrate McLennan did when she read in open court the application from SOCU for a search warrant for Anil Nandlall’s home. He chose that occasion to comment on the action of a magistrate, but not all those other controversial decisions of so many magistrates that have led to an unstable situation in the prison population in Guyana.

    The minister chose his priority. I am choosing mine as an opinion-maker, and my view is that if we continue to treat our youths so contemptuously, we may invite an outburst of a violently ugly emotion that can have tragic consequences. Power people in this country are so ignorant that they wait until disaster happens then to act. But maybe it is not only ignorance, but an empty mind at work too.

  • detow  On 07/10/2017 at 11:24 am

    A sad affair with sadder reporting which identified prisoners of African descent as being of the NEGRO race. Would the reporter please identify for me that part of the world in which the NEGRO country exists.

    It is time that some consideration be given to relocating the Georgetown prison to some remote part of the interior so that the possibility of prisoners escaping into the unsuspecting People of Georgetown and surrounding areas.

  • NADIRA UK  On 07/10/2017 at 1:41 pm

    Country run by bunch of clowns. Stop running black people down you racist pigs. You might as well call them monkeys .frigging ignorant dogs

  • demerwater  On 07/10/2017 at 6:24 pm

    There was a remote “HMPS” – the Mazaruni prison. It served as a ‘detention center for political ‘detainees’. I have no idea as to its present status.

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