The blame for the death of the 17 inmates who perished inside the Camp Street Prison during a recent unrest was on Monday placed squarely at the feet of Deputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels by inmate Kenneth Griffith.
The prisoner who is currently housed in Capital C Division on a charge of murder cried throughout his testimony as he recounted the March 3 unrest.
Griffith said it was Samuel who was leading the task force during the search of inmates when smoke started to emanate from the Capital A Division on March 3.
He said Senior Superintendant Samuels then asked his Officers whether they had lit a fire in the Division which was denied.
“He ask if they light any fire and they said no and then he said well if not then lock the door and let they S***T burn,” he claimed.
Griffith said he personally asked Samuels to open the door while inmates were shouting for “murder.”
“I said Mr. Samuels is people like yourself up there and he walk away… I don’t know if the other officers were intimidated by the gun in his waist but they didn’t move,” Griffith added.
However he was confronted by Attorney Selwyn Pieters who is representing the police and prison at the CoI.
Pieters suggested that Samuels did not give the order to lock the door.
However that suggestion did not sit well with the visibly upset Griffith. He responded by saying, “You are being paid to lie.”
When asked to repeat, Griffith in a slowed tone said again “you are being paid to lie,” before he was upbraided by the Chairman.
Pieters also suggested that Samuels did not lead the task force, However Griffith insisted that his suggestion was wrong.
During cross examination Griffith continued to ask the Attorney “were you there?”
He claimed that the task force officers did abuse the alleged ring leader Collis Collison.
Griffith said the prison wardens only rendered assistance after another senior rank who he identified as “Mr. Pilgrim” spoke to them.
“After Mr. Pilgrim spoke to them then they picked up tools and hose and ran but by then the smoke was heavy and whatever efforts didn’t help.”
Griffith insisted that the inmates died because of Samuels order to lock the door.