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With families in the dark, fear grows over inmates' condition

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

Relatives of inmates at the Horizon Remand Centre stand near the entrance of the facility as police enter yesterday. - photos by Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Suspicion and disbelief continue to greet official reports on Monday's riot at the Horizon Remand Centre.

Following a visit to the Spanish Town Road-based facility yesterday afternoon, Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson reported that nine correctional officers and 40 inmates had been injured in the melee.

According to Nelson, none of the correctional officers was hospita-lised, while 15 inmates were admitted at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH); 17 treated and returned to the prison and three transferred to the hospital at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre. Five inmates were being treated at hospital up to yesterday afternoon.

"No one was shot in the incident," the national security ministry declared in its release.

reports questioned

Nelson is expected to receive a preliminary report on the incident today while an audit continues into security measures at the facility.

However, family and friends of inmates at the prison yesterday continued to question the official report as they demanded access to the inmates.

"Them (the prison authorities) say nobody nuh get shot and me know say me see one prisoner at hospital with gunshot wound in him foot," one woman told The Gleaner yesterday as she stood guard outside the prison.

She said she waited at the KPH on Monday night until all the inmates were taken there and counted 36 people with multiple wounds, including the man she claimed was shot.

But the main person she was looking for - her 29-year-old son who is facing a murder charge - was not there.

"Them tell me say me son hand bruk and me nuh see him come a Public (KPH) yet so me nuh know what happen to him," the woman lamented.

"Me come up here this morning to hear about me son because me can't get to talk to him and nobody nah tell me nothing. Them a hide everything," the woman added.

Another woman, whose 21-year-old son is also being held in the remand centre, had a little more luck when she visited the hospital.

"My son head mash up and when me go hospital him see me and hold up him hand but the police never mek me go talk to him," she told The Gleaner.

She noted that her son was slated to face the court today on a larceny and wounding charge but there has been no indication yet if that will take place.

The Department of Correctional Services is expected to put measures in place today to allow family members to visit inmates who are hospitalised.

The national security ministry had initially reported that 36 inmates and nine warders were injured in the incident, which started when some inmates broke the locks on their cells to protest conditions in the prison, including a shortage of water.

It is believed the inmates were also peeved because of a recent clampdown on the flow of contraband into the prison.

A relative of an inmate at the Horizon Remand Centre, Spanish Town Road, Kingston, stands with a bag filled with clothing for the prisoner, who is to attend a court hearing, while a correctional services vehicle enters the premises a day after a riot at the facility.