By Shermain Bique-Charles
The Superintendent of Prisons and four wardens at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) have been named in a lawsuit by a former inmate, Joseph Peters, who is also an ex-cop.
The attorney representing Peters claimed that Lt Col Eugene Phillip refused to address a matter involving his client who was allegedly beaten by the prison officers on April 28 at HMP.
Wendel Robinson added that a report was made following the incident and an affidavit was sent to the prison superintendent and the Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney.
“I have no choice. It’s been over a month and they have refused to tell me whether investigations have started. My client was beaten in the presence of a very senior prison officer. He sustained a lot of internal injuries and a broken nose. I am suing for damages,” he said.
Robinson suspects that those who received the affidavit were deliberately side-stepping the matter. “I have written to the police commissioner before and he responds to me promptly on every matter. Why is it that this one is different? And why after over one month the prison superintendent is so silent on the matter,” Robinson questioned.
The attorney is suing for monetary compensation and breaching of his client’s constitutional rights, due to torture, inhumane conditions and degrading treatment.
“I expected that in the public interest for an investigation to be done and I expect that the police will investigate the matter. There just seems to be a loud wall of silence. The investigations should be done and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
Furthermore, Robinson said the prison authorities waited until eight days had passed before they took his client to seek medical attention for the injuries he sustained during the alleged beating.
That matter, he said, will form the basis of the lawsuit, because according to Robinson, Peters’ health has been seriously compromised as a result of the negligent attitude of the prison officers.
When Observer contacted Lt Col Phillip he said he was unaware that any legal matter had been filed against him, but confirmed that he had received a letter from Robinson regarding the alleged incident.
“I know of the gentleman. I am also aware of the alleged allegations about the beating but I have not received any legal documents from Robinson as yet,” he said.
The prison boss added that when the allegations first surfaced, the Prison Visiting Committee had been mandated to investigate the matter.
“I didn’t want the prison officers to investigate it because they are the ones the allegations are made against so I decided to go the other route,” he said.
Peters was released from prison on June 3, about three weeks before his stipulated date after his attorney filed a writ of habeas corpus in court. Robinson maintained that the time the ex-policeman had spent on remand had not been taken into account when his prison sentence was calculated. The court agreed and freed Peters on June 3 instead of June 24.
Peters was convicted for a crime called demanding with menace, or bribery.