2nd prison break: Security Minister says ‘I am responsible’ but wont resign

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Govt manifestly incapable of allaying the fears & trauma stalking the land- Opposition Leader

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan says while he is embarrassed and believes he is ultimately responsible for there being yet another prison break in less than one month, he does not intend to resign.

“I am ultimately responsible. Those directly responsible are the security…at this stage I don’t want to go there…I was embarrassed. It was an unfortunate setback… but here we are, we have to move on, catch them and get some new prisons,” he said.

During a press conference with media operatives at the Public Security Ministry on Monday afternoon, the Minister was questioned as to whether he feels it is an appropriate time to demit office, in light of there being obvious chaos within the security sector.

“I am a fighter and I’m here because I indeed want to help in the security sector. It is unfortunate that this has happened under my stewardship and indeed, it is a bad thing, if I may so but resignation is not a word that I am normally associated with. I have gone through this political career with a lot, not necessarily worse than this but a lot that is equivalent to this, but I am still here and I wanna believe that I will still be standing when all is over,” the Minister responded.

Inews had reported earlier on Monday that during a head count of 99 hardened inmates, at the Lusignan Prison, walled pasture, at around 07:00hrs, it was discovered that 13 were missing.

Inspections around the premises revealed that the men escaped through a hole they had dug under the wall of the prison.

The tunnel dug by the prisoners in which 13 escaped

Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels told media operatives that the last head count was made on Sunday at around 16:00hrs.

The fugitives, most of whom have either been accused of or convicted for murder, were identified as Jason Howard, Clive Forde, Shawn Harris, Tristan McKenzie, Winston Long, Kerry Cromwell, Pascal Smith, Odel Roberts, Kendall Skeet, Rayon Jones, Jamal Forde, Jamal Joseph and Paul Goriah.

A massive manhunt has since been launched for the escapees.

The remaining Lusignan prisoners within the walled pasture will, according to the Government, be transferred to the Camp Street brick prison which they say has been repaired.

These prisoners are the same ones who were being housed at the Camp Street Prison prior to the staged attack on Correctional officers and the fire, which almost completely gutted the penitentiary on July 9, 2017.

They along with several hundred more were transported to the walled area located in the compound of the Lusignan Prison on the East Coast of Demerara.

However, over the past weeks, hundreds of inmates had been relocated to the other prisons countrywide, while some 400 were moved to a newly constructed tarmac at the Lusignan penitentiary, leaving 99 (now 86) of the hardened criminals at the swampy Lusignan enclosure.

Manifestly incapable

Meanwhile, the Office of the Leader of the Opposition in a released statement on the second prison break expressed grave concerns over the latest disaster to have befallen this nation.

According to the Opposition Leader, Dr Bharat Jagdeo, “this morning, 13 of the most dangerous prisoners escaped the pasture in which they were corralled at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara. This latest tragedy has catapulted the nation into even greater fear. The matter is compounded by the fact that this government is manifestly incapable of saying or doing anything to allay the fear and trauma that have gripped this land.”

Taking a swipe at Government, Jagdeo asked if the Coalition  will lay blame for the current security crisis at the feet of the PPP/C.

“Will they still ludicrously contend that they inherited this situation from the PPP/C government?” he asked.

“We reiterate our continued support for the members of our Disciplined Forces. We urged them to expend their best efforts in seeking to capture all the escapees so that our country can return to some degree of normalcy” said Jagdeo.

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