Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan, late Wednesday night revealed that about 300 prisoners have been released following the massive fire which flattened the Georgetown Prison at Camp Street.
He also stated that 85 convicted inmates have been relocated to the Mazaruni Prison in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
The Minister made those revelations in an interview with media operatives at the University of Guyana Turkeyen and Tain Talks at the Pegasus Hotel.
However, Imran Khan, Director of Public Information, is refuting the assertions posited by the Public Security Minister and is saying that 300 prisoners were not released.
In a social media comment posted this morning Khan said “300 prisoners were transferred to other prisons (Mazaruni, Timehri and New Amsterdam) NOT released.”
Ramjattan had said that the approximately 300 persons include those who have been granted bail for non-violent offences and prisoners who were scheduled for release in the months of July and August.
Moreover, the Minister had said that he invoked his extraordinary powers and granted those inmates early release since they would have displayed good behaviour for the duration of their sentences.
Ramjattan further stated that more prisoners are expected to be released to ease overcrowding and make room for those displaced.
“We will be going to the other prisons at Mazaruni, Lusignan and Timehri and see those prisoners who are scheduled to be released soon and if they display good behaviour, they will also be released, so we can transfer those (from Camp Street) to those facilities,” the Minister stated.
A press conference is scheduled to be held today (Thursday) at 1pm with the Public Security Minister and the Commissioner of Police, among others, to provide updates on the Georgetown Prison incident.
INews will be seeking clarification at the press briefing.
Meanwhile, acting Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels, told the Government’s Information Hub on Wednesday that prison authorities are currently working to accurately inform the public about the prisoners as soon as possible.
“I know that the media is seeking a lot of information as it relates to names of persons who have been transferred, who have been discharged, who are probably at large; we are currently working on compiling all of those lists, so that the information can be provided… We have several persons putting the pieces together,” he stated.
Samuels added that, once completed, the information would be submitted to the Public Security Minister, who would in turn make it public. This information, the acting Director of Prisons noted, would bring some sense of relief to the public, especially in light of speculations that there are “many prisoners” at large following Sunday’s incident.
Authorities revealed earlier in the week that some 1018 inmates were at the Camp Street facility at the time of the jailbreak. But there have been subsequent reports of that figure being 1090, 1110 and even 1144.
Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud when asked earlier in the week to state what was the exact number of prisoners that were at the Camp Street Prison at the time of the incident, related that, “I am interested in the ones that have escaped…we are trying to assist the prison in restoring order, and pursue those who have escaped and get them rearrested.”
The Force confirmed on Wednesday that eight prisoners are on the run. out of the eight, wanted bulletins have been issued for six of the them, while the police and army officers are combing the backlands of East Bank and East Coast Demerara villages, as well as in the community of Buxton in search for some of the escapees.
Sunday’s fire which flattened the Camp Street jail had served as a distraction for inmates to escape from prisons. In their bid to do so, several prison officers were brutally attacked, and have suffered from shotgun wounds and lacerations.
In fact, one of the seven wounded officers, 33-year-old Odinga Wickham, succumbed to gunshot wounds to the chest.