Guyana Prison Escapee Recaptured; Inquiry into Prison Break

Guyana’s Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sunday July 16, 2017 – Two of the eight prisoners authorities thought had been on the run after the jailbreak at the Camp Street Prison, have now been accounted for. And with one of the escapees having been caught on Friday, the hunt continues for the other five.

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan made the disclosure as he also revealed that a Commission of Inquiry would be held into the riot and fire that destroyed the country’s main jail.

The incident occurred after 4 p.m. last Sunday when inmates started several fires simultaneously in different buildings. Prison officer Odinga Wayne Wickham was fatally shot in the chest and several of his colleagues were also injured.

Several inmates escaped at the time, and that number had eventually been given as eight.

However, Ramjattan said on Thursday that two of the eight had been accounted for, explaining that there was some difficulty initially as prisoners did not cooperate in the verification procedure. He said the process has since been improved as inmates have been transferred to other prison facilities, and two of the eight were accounted for in that process, leaving six confirmed on the run.

A day later, escapee Desmond James was recaptured in West Bank Demerara.

The five that have been confirmed still on the run are either murder convicts or accused. They are: Mark Royden Durant – who is on death row for the Bartica and Lusignan massacres; Uree Varswyck, who was committed to stand trial for the 2014 murder of a security guard; Stafrei Hopkinson Alexander, charged with the 2015 murder of a businesswoman; Cornelius Thomas and Cobena Stephens.

“The Joint Services will be doing their best to hunt them down and bring them in,” Minister Ramjattan said, with Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud adding that the Joint Services have embarked on several operations to bring them back custody.

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