Corbin calls for independent probe into prisoner’s death
Kaieteur News news item. Sunday July 13, 2008 | News
Dead: Edwin Niles
-says he is convinced inmate was tortured by members of security forces
Opposition Leader Robert Corbin yesterday called for an independent investigation into the death of prisoner Edwin Niles, whom he believes was tortured by members of the security forces.
Relatives of the dead inmate made the same plea yesterday while slamming Prison officials for giving them scant information on the circumstances that led to Niles’s demise.
“All information that I have received clearly indicates that he (Niles) was beaten and tortured by officers from the Georgetown Prison and from Brickdam (Police Station), and there should be an investigation,” he told Kaieteur News.
The Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) says that he was informed that Niles was beaten with a stick and rubber hose.
Niles had also reportedly told a relative that he was scalded with hot water, while his mother — Brenda Welcome-Nurse — claimed that prison officials told her that her son was injured during an altercation with other prison officers.
“It is clear that …they were carrying out an investigation into the bullets (found on Niles) and they tortured him, and all of this adds to the list of independent inquiries that they should have into the operations of the security forces.”
Corbin says that the nation has lost confidence in the administration to mount impartial investigations, “and that is a very dangerous situation.”
Police officials have repeatedly told this newspaper that Niles was already injured when prison officials brought him to the Brickdam Police Station for questioning.
They say that a doctor ordered them to take the injured man to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
When asked about Niles’s death, Director of Prisons, Dale Erskine, assured Kaieteur News yesterday that prison officials were issuing a statement on the matter.
Meanwhile, Niles’s relatives also expressed doubt that the security services could mount an impartial investigation when fingers were being pointed at them.
“We want an independent investigation. We don’t want someone else going through what he (Niles) went through. He was not a notorious prisoner,” one relative said.
Niles’s mother, Brenda Welcome-Nurse, and other relatives learnt of his death at around 23:00 hrs on Friday night after a hospital staffer requested that they come to the hospital urgently.
When they arrived at the institution, they were informed that Niles had died and he was already wrapped in a sheet.
Niles’s mother and sister had also visited the institution at around 17:45 hrs after being informed that he was unwell.
According to Mrs. Nurse, she observed two prison officers pushing Niles in a wheelchair to his bed.
However, as on previous occasions, the family members were not allowed to speak to him.
Mrs. Nurse says that a female prison officer contacted her by telephone at around 14:00 hrs yesterday to inform her that her son had died. But by then she had known hours earlier.
Niles was admitted to hospital with a broken arm and burns on his back about a week ago, after being questioned about seven .22 rounds of ammunition that were found in a pair of trousers he was wearing.
There are reports that he picked up an old pair of army trousers while he and other inmates were sent to work at Camp Ayanganna, and that the ammunition was in one of the pockets.
A hospital statement had indicated that Niles was beaten by other inmates.
Several ranks from the Guyana Defence Force have also been questioned to ascertain how Niles acquired the ammunition.